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Half of UK’s electricity to be renewable by 2025 (carbonbrief.org)
39 points by Xixi 3 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 23 comments

How much will remain nuclear by 2025 (despite nuclear not being renewable)? Estimates suggest 20% to 30%, but the article also suggests that new nuclear plants are not necessarily going to be built as previously slated. Even still, 50% renewable plus ~25% nuclear is a pretty good clean mix.

In the battle against climate change, nuclear = clean. I care about climate change an order of magnitude more than I do about nuclear waste disposal. Given this headline, as far as I’m concerned the ideal amount of nuclear in 2025 is 50%.

Totally agree. We’re also making significant progress on the waste that needs to be disposed. Gen-5 reactors that could be brought online in the 2030s, with sustained investment, could be closed cycle enough that waste may only need to be stored for a few hundred years. That’s short enough that we don’t need anything particularly special to store it.

Right. If they committed to nuclear in 2000, they'd probably already be at very low carbon: https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelshellenberger/2018/09/11...

Unfortunately, the government definition of 'renewable' in this case includes 'biomass' which in the case of Drax means chopping down American forests and burning them, dumping the carbon into the atmosphere. Which of course leaves a bunch of carbon in the atmosphere, as it takes a hundred years for replacement trees to soak up the released carbon [1].

Makes no sense from a climate change perspective IMHO - I can't see why the government accepts it, except as a way of cooking the books to hit their own renewables targets.

[1] https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/aaa512/...

Better than burning gas or oil, though

Is it? If so, can you elaborate?

Not the OP, but one could make the argument that if forests are replanted (and they are in the US) that young trees may sequester carbon faster than old trees. Here is an interesting article: https://icp.giss.nasa.gov/research/ppa/2001/anwar/

From a carbon perspective, it may even be desirable to periodically harvest trees (not just better than oil/gas), but I think a lot more research needs to be done.

Thank you for this explanation. Seems weird that someone thought to downvote me for asking a simple question, because at face value, CO_2 is released from either source and one might intuitively think that chopping down a source of CO_2 sequestration is counter productive, but you addressed that concern adequately.

The estimates show the percentage increase from renewables slowing and tailing off to around 45-50%. Is there any justification for assuming the trend won't continue at a rate similar to current in the near future?

I don't expect that it would reach 100%, particularly as there are motivations to preserve the nuclear industry beyond power generation, but 50% seems a low estimate.


Even at 2am on a still night the UK uses a gargantuan amount of power and we haven't solved the "How do we manage that with renewables?" problem.

In some areas like Texas wind blows strongest at night. And generally wind and solar compensate each other's seasonal deficiencies. The biggest problems are the 3 weeks in a year in which the sun does not shine and wind does not blow at the same time.

I read an article by Ramez Naam that suggested this would be solved by a nationwide grid rather than separate grids, since weather and usage fluctuations will average out

In fact, wind power generates such an energy surplus on the Texas grid that various energy retailers have gone with “free evening electricity” plans. Possibly only applicable to Great Plans-style regions, but solar+wind gives a pretty reliable generation base for Texas.

Well that's great but it's not really enough and it's 50 years too late. Also UK accounts for 1% of global production. Sorry to be negative but we need to face up to the fact that we are in deep shit.

"The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is today."

The only thing worse than the "not really enough" emissions reduction plans, is idle comments about how terrible they are without offering any better, more effective solution.

Reducing the UK by 50% is better than not. If every country didn't reduce because they "only" make up X% of global emissions, no progress would be made, period. The solution is to target 0 CO2 emissions, and work our way there one productive step at a time.

There isn't a better, more effective solution. Maybe 25 years ago, but it's almost certainly too late now. [0] Even if we cut emissions to 0 tomorrow using magic, the ice caps would continue melting from the CO2 we've already released.

That said, it's still worth it to keep emphasizing the fact that things are going to continue getting worse for the environment. Otherwise, people will be shocked, angry and outraged and societal upheaval and violence are likely to result. Already, you see people are upset about the wildfires in California, or the influx of migrants from the global south.

It would be doubly sad (though perhaps some would call it poetic justice) if we lost our civilization as a consequence of destroying our ecosystem.

[0] https://www.rifters.com/crawl/?p=8433

> There isn't a better, more effective solution. Maybe 25 years ago, but it's almost certainly too late now. [0] Even if we cut emissions to 0 tomorrow using magic, the ice caps would continue melting from the CO2 we've already released.

Please propose an alternative solution that does not involve time travel.

Yes, Climate Change is going to have a negative impact on the world regardless of what we do today. But if we don't do anything, that impact will be even worse!

CO2 capture in the vein of www.climeworks.com might be the solution, but it would need the political will to tax the humankind. There is no way we will ever find a commercial use for the captured CO2.

In the meantime, those of us with the means to do so can buy cheap arable land (of the low yield potential, remote and so on) and plant a native forest there. If you're in the EU, the cost of doing so might be way less than you imagine, thanks to the Union heavily subsidizing forestation. My first order approximation is that fully offsetting the estimated emissions of my family would delay getting that damned flat downpayment by two or three years. Which I'm seriously considering.

This should all be done in addition to emissions reductions, though!

CO2 capture will unfortunately never be practical. Assuming we can get the cost down to $100/ton (which is very optimistic!), the cost of capturing all CO2 emitted by fossil fuels per year would roughly equal 20% of the total US GDP. Limiting emissions will always be orders of magnitudes more efficient.


> We've already driven the bus off the cliff: I'm saying we need to brace for impact

We need to do both, or that impact is going to be even more catastrophic! We're already fcked, but every additional half degree of warming makes us significantly more fcked.

While it would be great if the UK could reduce CO2 emissions by 10,000% of current levels, it’s probably easier for every country to individually reduce their own CO2 emissions, starting with whatever is most cost-effective. In those cases where a country can produce more than it needs, export it, like any other good — this already happens in some cases.

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