IEA Data Shows Nuclear Investment Adds More Power Than Wind and Solar

Global energy spending and construction cost data is summarized and forecasted by the International Energy Association (IEA).

Data from the IEA shows that the world has been spending about $775 billion per year for the past three years building and power generation and power distribution. $250 billion per year has been spent on solar and wind power generation projects for the past three years. Each year of $250 billion investment in solar and wind power projects is generating about 220 Terawatt hours of energy per year.

About $50 billion per year has been spent building out nuclear power. This will add 110 terawatt hours of energy as each year of investment gets completed. The nuclear investment has been offsetting the decline of closing nuclear plants. Overall nuclear energy production has been at about 2500 TWh. Many nuclear plants closed prematurely in Germany and Japan or for lengthy periods in Japan.

How Long do Wind, Solar and Nuclear Energy Production Facilities Last?

It should be noted that solar power facilities tend to last about 15 years while nuclear plants can last 40-80 years. The latest analytics of nuclear components appears to allow for nuclear plants to be operated on a perpetual basis. Wind farms tend to last 20-25 years.

Solar has to be rebuilt every 15 years and wind has to be rebuilt every 20-25 years. Nuclear plants tend to be licensed for 40 years and then require significant maintenance every 20 years thereafter.

Here is a chart with the spending on different energy construction projects.

Here is chart showing the added energy generation. The units are terawatt hours. If you see other data with gigawatts then the three times higher capacity factor for nuclear power is being ignored. You buy energy by the hour. It matters how long you are pulling the power.

IEA projects similar and slightly increasing spending on energy. IEA also project some price improvements for solar and wind power.

The IEA has wind and solar energy forecasts out to 2022.

Global solar power is projected to go from 500 TWh in 2018 to about 900 TWh in 2022.
Global wind power is projected to go from 1200 TWh in 2018 to about 1600 TWh in 2022.
This will cost over $1 trillion in spending over 4 years. This is $250 billion per year in spending on solar and wind where it has been for the last three years.

Nextbigfuture previously wrote about this to explain that nuclear power is still cheaper and safer than solar power to create on national and global scales.

Single solar farm projects can make it appear that solar power is cheaper to build and develop.

Night and Winter

Solar power does not generate power at night. Solar power only generates when there is little to no clouds from about 10AM to 4 PM.

Winter also tends to be a problem for wind and solar. In winter months wind and solar power generation tends to drop to about 10% of the power produced during the summer.

If a country had a very high percentage of power produced from solar and wind then they would need some other form of power or a LOT of long-term energy storage to last for every night and for months during the winter.

Currently, most countries use coal power or natural gas power to backup the solar and wind.

A lot of the excess solar and wind power that is generated at the wrong time for people to use it does not have any storage and it burns off as heat along the power grid.

This is why Germany’s overall emissions have gone up despite building a lot of solar and wind power.

Germany generates about 33% of its power from solar and wind. This is about 225 TWh out of 580-600 TWh per year.

Germany has spent over $800 billion on renewable energy subsidies and its emissions are twice as high as France on a per person basis. Germany’s emissions were flat for four years and had a 4.6% decrease in 2018 because of high coal prices.

SOURCES- IEA, Clean Energy Wire, Forbes
Written By Brian Wang.