Nuclear power advocates believe the technology is essential to building a fossil fuel free world energy system. In fact it is optional, writes David Elliott - and not even very helpful. Efficiency and the 'new renewables' can do the job faster, and at much lower cost.
Renewable energy is doing well around the world - supplying around 22% of global electricity.
In 2013, the world achieved 1,560 gigawatts (GW) of renewable electricity generation capacity - almost five times more than the 331 GW of nuclear generation capacity. And where nuclear power supplied 11% of the world's electricity, renewables about twice as much.
Hydro is the biggest electricity supplying renewable, with around 1,000GW of generation capacity in place. Wind comes next at 318GW, while PV solar is at around 139GW globally. And on the heat side, along with biomass use, solar thermal is now at 326GW, much of it in China.
Will renewables continue to grow? Globally, the recession hit all investment, and total global investment in 'clean energy' of all sorts fell 9% in 2013 to $254bn, following a 9% drop in 2012, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
Renewables take 72% share of new generating capacity
But within that, renewables have held up quite well. The REN21 group says 2013 marked the sixth consecutive year in which renewables had the majority share of new electricity generating capacity, with a 72% share in 2013...
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