California’s Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) requires 50% of utility retail sales derive from renewable sources by 2030. This includes ramping up efficiency, storage and renewable infrastructure, especially rooftop solar projects. A major California utility, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) is addressing the RPS requirements in part by announcing the retirement of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant by 2025 with production to be replaced by renewables and improved energy storage. Although carbon-free, nuclear power is not classified as a renewable energy source under California’s 50% mandate and as a result, California nuclear is beginning a phase-out.
Implementation of the state RPS will require Diablo Canyon to produce at nearly half capacity in the years leading to the end of its functionality in 2025. As a result, PG&E explains the retirement economically, indicating that cutting nuclear production even slightly makes the investment in renewables more worthwhile given the high cost of nuclear operation. Other concerns surrounding nuclear have also been raised, such as plant safety and byproduct disposal.
Nuclear currently provides about 60 percent of the nation’s carbon-free power, which some environmentalists and state and federal policymakers believe makes nuclear essential for reaching national climate goals. Concerns about the California nuclear plant closing revolve around filling the potential power generation gap. Opponents argue that renewable sources are insufficient, and PG&E will likely be forced to turn to natural gas and other fossil fuels to provide electricity to its customers. California’s RPS is highly supportive of wind and solar projects; however, without Diablo’s production, some are asking if these intermittent energy sources will be enough to provide for PG&E’s 5.4 million electric customers.
While issues such as siting and waste disposal must be addressed at the planning and construction stages as well as during operation, it is a mistake to take nuclear power… Read more »
My exhibit “Gallery of Clean Energy Inventions” is linked at padrak.com/vesperman and commutefaster.com/vesperman.html. Displayed are summaries of 16 Larger Generators, 28 Smaller Generators, 20 Advanced Self-Powered Electric Vehicle Innovations, 26… Read more »
The premise of the California argument is faulty from the start in stating that renewables cannot meet ALL of California’s electricity needs, and second, we should keep old nuclear plants… Read more »
Excellent post; thank you. Nuclear is an enormous and expensive distraction. We have an embarrassment of renewable power sources, energy efficiency and demand response opportunities to more than offset the… Read more »
That’s nonsense. Small modular nuclear can ramp as well as anything and is designed to load follow wind. But nuclear is the ultimate caseload, you don’t vary it, that’s the point,… Read more »
Michael Shellenberger presents a starkly contrasting argument in the New York Times: “If the proposal is approved by the state’s Public Utilities Commission, California’s carbon dioxide emissions will either increase… Read more »
Let us be very optimistic and assume that California’s Renewables Portfolio Standard of 50% of utility retail sales by 2030 is met with renewables in combination with increased energy efficiency and energy… Read more »
Nuclear is a baseload resource. Renewables are intermittent and non-dispatchable. California continues to build solar exacerbating the mid-day oversupply problem (i.e. Goose Curve). The only realistic option in my mind… Read more »
On the bedrock issue of replacing existing base load generation with wind and solar. The point touched on by Herschel Specter needs emphasis. Specifically he asked will the public accept… Read more »
Even if it is possible, with herculean efforts to perfectly insulate all buildings and replace all lights with the most efficient LEDs available, California will need enormous sources of power… Read more »
Rod: One clarification. No one claims that biomass is “CO2 free”. The use of biomass is net-zero emissions because the CO2 emitted from the burning of biomass all came out… Read more »
Dan: The marketers at NRDC, FOE, and PG&E are certainly claiming that biomass is “GHG-free” in their Joint Proposal to destroy Diablo Canyon in the prime of its life. They… Read more »
Rod: What I stated stands. Biomass is generally GHG-neutral since the CO2 emitted is first removed from the atmosphere when the biomass is growing. Buildings, paper, and even burying still… Read more »
San Luis Obispo is now realizing what is being taken away from them. The PG&E income for the community and education. The lost jobs that will negatively affect the community.… Read more »
California will do what they have done in the past and they will take the best short term solution that costs the least. In this they are very lucky for… Read more »