James Conca, scientist in the field of earth and environmental sciences. Contributor to Forbes: Most people have heard of something called externalities, costs not factored into the price. An energy’s deathprint is a rarely-discussed externality. The deathprint is the number of people killed per kWh produced. There is debate on the absolute numbers, but no one debates on the relative ranking from most dangerous to least. It is notable that in media and legislative discussions, the only time death is mentioned is for nuclear, ironic since it has the lowest deathprint of any source.
U.S. Department of Energy: The evolution of wholesale electricity markets, including the extent to which Federal policy interventions and the changing nature of the electricity fuel mix are challenging the original policy assumptions that shaped the creation of those markets. Markets recognize and compensate reliability, and must evolve to continue to compensatereliability, but more work is needed to address resilience. The biggest contributor to coal and nuclear plant retirements has been the advantaged economics of natural gas-fired generation.
Bryan Leyland, power systems design, mechanical engineer: We constantly hear that our present way of life is unsustainable because the world is running out of fossil fuels and other vital resources. People in developed countries are healthier and live longer than in the past. Abundant energy, engineering, technology and modern medicine have driven this transformation. We have progressed from eking out a living from subsistence agriculture to having plenty of time for recreation and relaxation and living better than a king 300 years ago. Nevertheless, billions of people are still living in poverty, and they and we need good governance and economic growth from using the best available technology to ensure that goods are supplied at the lowest cost and that energy is used efficiently and wisely.
James Conca, scientist in the field of earth and environmental sciences. Contributor to Forbes: China now has more wind and solar energy than the rest of the world - combined. But transmission bottlenecks, coal’s undue influence, and market set-up have prevented large amounts of renewable electricity from reaching the Chinese grid. Renewables are increasing faster than the infrastructure to support them. So it’s not surprising that China would keep building huge hydro plants as well as tripling their nuclear power over the next decade. The largest power plants are nearly all hydro dams and nuclear.