What would it take to replace coal in the U.S?

November 3, 2009

From today’s Financial Times, here’s what it would take to replace coal as a fuel for generating electricity:

It would take a massive effort to replace coal production. Peabody Energy, which owns North Antelope and is the world’s largest private sector coal company, says replacing coal would be a gargantuan task. It would require 2,400 times more solar generation, 40 times more wind power, 250 new nuclear plants, almost double the US production of natural gas, 500 hydro plants the size of the Hoover Dam or halving electricity consumption. Even then, the US would have to find a way to meet new demand, given growth forecasts.

The greens’ choice, of course, is the “halving electricity consumption” option. But never in the history of mankind has reduced energy use been associated with social and economic advancement.

4 Responses to “What would it take to replace coal in the U.S?”

  1. 01wmarsh Says:

    With the closing of the Yucca Mountain repository the US now has no place for long term storage of spent nuclear fuel. If we were to build 250 nuclear plants we’d first have to figure out how to fuel them, since estimates are that we have less than a 30 years supply of Uranium on the planet at current usage rates. Then we’d have to figure out where we put the spent fuel, we already have 1,000s of tons of the stuff sitting in little ponds in hundreds of locations scattered across the US and, with a lot of the plants we built in the 60-70s reaching ‘end of life’ we’ll have 1,000s more. What are we going to do with it all?

    Much as I’d like to believe, nuclear is not an option for the majority of US energy production. Our only hope is that we actually develop workable fusion, which, sad to say, appears to be a pipe dream.

    • antigreennuke Says:

      You’re misinformed. There is no nuclear waste problem, period. Enviros talk about thousands of tons, yes, but fail to mention the electricity produced in the process. If all electricity right now were produced by nuke plants, each citizen would on average have a nuclear waste “footprint” the size of an M&M candy, per year – sounds scary!! How do we get rid of that waste!!! They say we can’t put it into Yucca mountain, but how can that be when the radiation of spent fuel is about the same as natural uranium, which resides in mountains where we mine it! Uranium supplies are no problem either. Flashback to the 1980ies when we had a real president: Reagan promoted the switch to fast breeder reactors, that burn plutonium and produce plutonium from abundant U-238, never running out of fuel, ever. Major reactor manufacturers have stated that their 4th generation reactors (right now it’s 3rd) are going to be fast breeders, so there’s no fuel problem either. For current reactors there’s there’s the option of reprocessing, and France does it successfully, but Jimmy Carter banned it, effectively banning what is now called “recycling” – a VERY smart move by him. Lastly there’s also the option to mine more uranium, but every attempt to do so is hit by vicious attacks of green groups that oppose any development that could result in prosperity.
      As always (like with oil, water and so on) there is NO actual shortage, there is only a shortage of honesty in our government.

  2. johnnylucid Says:

    Vaclav Smil pointed out, nearly a year ago, that we’re not done yet with coal in “Moore’s Curse and the Great Energy Delusion” see http://www.american.com/archive/2008/november-december-magazine/moore2019s-curse-and-the-great-energy-delusion

  3. antigreennuke Says:

    China is opening a new coal plant every week. The U.S. economy which is according to the liberal media, and the U.N., a much more powerful, more prosperous and more technologically advanced country, should easily be able to open at least 20 new nuclear plants (state-of-the-art 1 GW or 1.6 GW per reactor) each year. So in only 10 years, 200 new plants could be built….

    Back in reality however, in *30 years* not a *single* new nuclear plant has been started, thanks to green opposition who seemed to hate nuclear above all else (Jimmy Carter banned reprocessing because because “someone could use it to build a bomb”) and left no other option but to use only “safe” fuels such as coal and gas. Now that the consequences have materialized and we have settled with coal fired plants, the greens have arrogantly changed their mind and suddenly – after the “discovery” of global warming – oppose CO2 and all fossil fuels.

    Who knows, in 10 years the greens could “discover” harmful effects of solar panels or wind turbines (such as energy sprawl), and launch a massive campaign against them – and we dance after their tune.


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