Changing energy and transportation in the US in an expensive way will not by itself deflect world greenhouse gas emissions. It will cost about $50-200 per ton of CO2 doing it that way. And it will take many decades.
The US emits over 5 billion tons of CO2 emissions per year. The world emits 37 billion tons of CO2. The world CO2 equivalent emissions are 55 billion tons per year.
The world is increasing by 2% per year. This means the world will add 7 billion tons of CO2 emissions by 2030 and about 10 billion tons of CO2 equivalent. If US goes to zero by 2030 then the world will still be at 39 billion tons of CO2 and 58 billion tons of CO2 equivalent.
Solar and wind have far less power in the winter so it would not work year round without a lot of natural gas backup, plus grid rebuild and loads of batteries for daily fluctuations.
80% nuclear and hydro with 20% solar and wind could provide the US with clean energy. I think the most affordable way would be to mass produce nuclear power and keep current nuclear which is 20% of electricity. The existing nuclear power should get extended uprates using Lightbridge metal fuel. Uprates could affordably add about 4 to 6% to nuclear production.
China and South Korea build nuclear power at about $2 to $2.5 per KW. This means it is about $4 to $5 billion for a one-gigawatt nuclear plant.
The US would need to revamp the Nuclear Regulatory Commission which has not approved a new reactor type since being formed in the 1970s from what was called the AEC. The AEC approved the prior versions of all of the boiler water and pressure water nuclear reactors that are used today in the USA.
If US can get smaller nuclear plant costs in the range of current Chinese and South Korean reactors then a nuclear construction wave would make sense. The Westinghouse eVinci 25MW reactor might enable this. The eVince could be mass produced like airplanes from factories. It would take 20,000 small 25 MWe reactors. If they are built at $2 per KW then they would be $50 Million each. Twenty thousand would cost $1 trillion. The first one could be operational in 2025. The full buildout could be done by 2040.
Thorcon is developing mass producable nuclear molten salt reactors which could cost $1 billion per GW. This would lower a large scale build out for the US to $500 billion.
Germany is spending loads of money on solar and wind but their emissions have not gone down in a major way. France and Switzerland are doing the best for wealthy countries on a per capita basis of CO2.
Switzerland has 4.7 tons per capita, which is one-third of US per capita emissions. Switzerland Nuclear power accounted for 36.4% of the nation’s gross electricity generation of 68.3 TWh, while 57.9% was produced by hydroelectric plants and 5.7% came from conventional thermal power stations and non-hydro renewable energy sources.
Environmental Judo Fixes Are 1% of the Cost of Energy Fixes
Go to electric cars and trucks. Trucks bigger bang for the buck. China has half of the worlds trucks. China will probably do this by 2030 to fix their pollution problem.
Fixing air pollution particulate and soot emissions is 20 times cheaper than the CO2 fix for changing energy and transportation. It is more expensive than the tree, iron fertilization offset.
The world should fix energy and transportation but take about 50 years to do it with lower cost solutions. It would be faster to store CO2 in the wood of new trees or in sea life that dies and goes to the bottom of the ocean for thousands of years. This could be done for 10 cents to $1 per ton of CO2.
– grow 1.2 trillion more trees (offset 300 billion tons for 6 years of world emissions), in 20 years cut them down and grow another batch of trees (plant with drones. $5 billion per year for 50 billion trees per year) or $250 billion per year planting old fashioned way.
– grow a lot of kelp in the oceans. Increase from current 25 miilion tons to billions of tons, use them in a way that does not release the CO2
– iron fertilization of the ocean (1000 iron fertilizations with 1000 tons of iron each for a total of 1 million tons per year). $2-10 billion per year
SOURCES- Wikipedia, Westinghouse interview by Brian Wang
Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com