Good summary of a much longer article on future energy choices:
Claudia Kemfert and Mark Jacobson summary by Jennie Dusheck
Kemfert & Jacobson argue that wind, water, and solar energy sources—plus storage—are the way to go. Broadly, they argue against policies that embrace “all of the above” energy sources and the concept of “climate neutrality.” They dismantle arguments for natural gas, carbon capture, biofuels & biomass, and nuclear.
1. Natural gas combustion generates carbon dioxide emissions, other air pollution and leaks methane, a potent short term greenhouse gas.
Kemfert & Jacobson write: “First, natural gas results in enormous carbon dioxide, methane, and air pollution emissions, both during its mining and use. In addition, it is a limited resource, is used significantly in centralized power plants, is often mined then shipped across country boundaries, and has mining and water pollution risks. As a result, natural gas damages climate, human health via air pollution, and energy security, so it fails to solve any problem.”
2. Carbon capture—whether at the smoke stack or from ambient air—is energy intensive and justifies continuing to burn fossil fuels, biofuels, and biomass, all of which generate carbon emissions and other pollutants. Carbon capture increases air pollution and reduces energy security.
3. Biofuels and biomass need 20 times as much land as solar panels to produce the same amount of energy. Electric vehicles use about 1/4 the energy/mile of an ICE engine, so BEVs use 1/80 the land per mile as a biofuel-powered vehicle. Biomass—such as municipal waste or forest products—also generate far more carbon emissions and other pollutants than wind or solar.
4. Because a nuclear power plant takes 10 to 19 years to plan and build, we no longer have time for nuclear to help eliminate fossil fuels by 2030. In addition, a nuclear power plant costs about 5 times as much as a wind farm that generates the same energy, and nuclear emits “9 to 37 times the carbon-equivalent emissions per unit energy as wind.
Kemfert & Jacobson write, “In sum, an all-of-the-above policy is a mediocre policy that will not help solve the global warming, air pollution, or energy security problems we face because it will siphon scarce resources needed for the real solution to these problems. It will also siphon precious time, which we have very little of.”