I’m late to the party, but check out this post from Randall Parker at FuturePundit about using nuclear and wind power to meet most of our electricity demand:
Most drastically, we could halt all carbon dioxide emissions from electric generation (cutting out a third of US CO2 emissions) by switching to only non-fossil fuels for electric power generation. For example, in the United States we could switch to nuclear where we now use coal and natural gas. In 2005 nuclear power accounted for 19.3% of total electric power generated. The United States had 104 nuclear reactors operating in 2005 with a total capacity of 97 gigawatts (almost 1 gigawatt per plant). So as a rough first approximation if we built 400 nuclear power plants or 4 times as much as we already have we could shut down all the fossil-fuels burning plants. Though that would not provide enough electric power during the peak afternoon demand periods.
Not surprisingly, I particularly like the way Randall talked about dynamic pricing in the comment thread:
Dynamic pricing could flatten out the demand for electricity. This would reduce the need for natural gas peak electric generation.
Really cheap electricity at night could be used for many purposes:
– Light for enclosed plant nurseries. Give the plants light when it is cheap.
– Recharge pluggable hybrid car batteries.
– Super heat or cool salts or other materials and then blow air over them to cool or heat buildings during the day.
– Pump drinking water at night. e.g. run the California aqueduct more at night than during the day.
– Do more heavy computing tasks at night when the electric is cheaper. Shut down some processors during the day. e.g. recalculate database indexes at night or do design simulations at night.
– Do more aluminum smelting at night when electric is cheap. Ditto for other electric-intense heavy industry processes.
Currently peak electricity use is subsidized by those who use more off-peak electricity. The same average price all day and all night effectively subsidizes peak users. Dynamic pricing would raise peak prices and lower off-peak prices. Capital and business processes would be reconfigured to do more work at night.
Yeah, what he said.