Guest Post: IEA Report Advises Governments To Embrace Renewables And Nuclear

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by John Daly of OilPrice

IEA Report Advises Governments To Embrace Renewables And Nuclear

The good news is that on 8 November the International Energy Agency released its 2011 “World Energy Outlook.”

While it will cheer nuclear advocates, overall the report makes for grim reading.

Pulling no punches, the report states at the outset, “There are few signs that the urgently needed change in direction in global energy trends is underway.”
Stripped of its cautious language, the IEA report essentially noted that should present trends continue, the world’s governments through a lack of progressive initiative embracing alternative energy sources would continue to rely on ‘tried and true” fossil fuels, resulting in increased pollution, more fossil-fuel dependency and increasingly upward energy prices.
For environmentalists, this is all good news, but the report contained a caveat virtually anathema to all green movements, that accordingly, governments should reconsider their reluctance to embrace nuclear power, as it does not generate greenhouse gases.

Like many discussions in Western economies since 2008, when the global recession first began to draw blood, the issue of reliable energy production ultimately devolves down to dollars and cents issues.
The grim reality for environmentalists is that no single renewable energy resource, from wind power to solar energy through biofuels, has remotely become competitive with kilowatt hours of electrical energy generated by coal or oil-fired power plants. The debate pits those opposed to a transition to greener technologies to those considering the bottom line, despite greenhouse gas emissions.
Even worse for the environmentalists, the IEA report advocates that as a short-term solution, governments ought to reconsider nuclear power, as it produces zero CO2 emissions. Projecting into the future the report notes, “A low-nuclear future would also boost demand for fossil fuels: the increase in global coal demand is equal to twice the level of Australia’s current steam coal exports and the rise in gas demand is equivalent to two-thirds of Russia’s current natural gas exports. The net result would be to put additional upward pressure on energy prices, raise additional concerns about energy security and make it harder and more expensive to combat climate change. The consequences would be particularly severe for those countries with limited indigenous energy resources which have been planning to rely relatively heavily on nuclear power”
But while sketching out a bleak scenario should governments remain largely disengaged to the larger issues involved in energy production, the IEA report nevertheless ends on a cautiously optimistic note, with its authors concluding, “International concern about the issue of energy access is growing. The United Nations has declared 2012 to be the ‘International Year of Sustainable Energy for All’ and the Rio+20 Summit represents an important opportunity for action. More finance, from many sources and in many forms, is needed to provide modern energy for all, with solutions matched to the particular challenges, risks and returns of each category of project. Private sector investment needs to grow the most, but this will not happen unless national governments adopt strong governance and regulatory frameworks and invest in capacity building. The public sector, including donors, needs to use its tools to leverage greater private sector investment where the commercial case would otherwise be marginal. Universal access by 2030 would increase global demand for fossil fuels and related CO2 emissions by less than 1%, a trivial amount in relation to the contribution made to human development and welfare.”
Accordingly, what is most notable about the IEA report is two things.
First, energy options beyond dependence on traditional fossil fuels such as coal and oil not only exist, but are available in significant amounts to make a serious contribution.
Secondly, as Germany’s experience in weaning itself off nuclear energy is showing, the alternatives are more expensive than current power production modes.
According to the IEA’s scenarios then, the issue of global power production over the next two-three decades devolves upon two major issues.
The first is cost, which will undoubtedly be an uphill struggle for many governments seeking to meet the population’s rising energy demands, who will be loathe to endure increasing energy bills.
The second consideration is the contentious issue of global warming, and the impact of traditional fossil fuel-fired power plants belching vast amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere.

While even the most diehard proponents of traditional power plant electrical generation to not deny that their facilities emit significant amounts of carbon dioxide, they denigrate the concerns of environmentalists as ‘fuzzy science.”
So, at the end of the day, the two fundamental issues facing the world’s nations seeking to satiate their population’s demand for reliable and inexpensive power devolve down to cost and scientific projections.  We’ll leave the final word to the IEA, which laid out three scenarios, ranging from best- to worst-case - "The wide difference in outcomes between these three scenarios underlines the critical role of governments to define the objectives and implement the policies necessary to shape our energy future." Accordingly, the major question is whether global governments will have both the cash and political will “to shape our energy future” to the best possible ends

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Missiondweller's picture

One cannot rationally simulateously believe in man made global warming and be against nuclear energy.


This is how you know Al Gore and other environmentalists aren't serious people.

cranky-old-geezer's picture



The global warming crowd has no answers, no viable energy plan, nothing.  They just wana tax everyone to death.  It's not about the climate.  It's about money. 

Global warming is simply a cover story to hide the real goal, global taxes.

fnord88's picture

Whilst I share your concern for new world orders, as someone with a physics major, I just find it extremely unlikely that every major scientific organisation in the world is part of some vast conspiracy. If you had much experience with scientists you would understand this, most of them are kind of religious about truth. Governments may have hijacked it for their own ends, their solutions may be bat shit crazy, but i'm pretty sure humans influence the climate. I know for a FACT that CO2 does.  

Global Hunter's picture

As a history major i can tell you that when a scientist or politician says that we need a global carbon tax so that mankind can bring the earth's temperatures down by 1 or 2 degrees I realize 2 things:

1: Man's hubris knows no bounds

2: You don't have to be smart to become a "scientist" or politician

P.S. make sure you take your flu shot this year, the medical community thinks its a good idea so it must be a fact right?

fnord88's picture

not sure it was the scientific community that said we needed a global tax. Are you saying you don't believe co2 causes warming, or that humans don't influence the amounts in the air?

p.s are you saying we should not listen to scientists? Cigarettes do not cause cancer? Seatbelts do more harm than good? Gravity is a matter of opinion?

Global Hunter's picture

We are a part of the environment and thus we influence it yes.  You should listen to each man, woman or child for what they really are, as an individual.  The title they hold or the degree they have means butkus to me really.  Take the medical community and "the average" doctor in the western world, they're nothing but glorified drug pushers, however I admit there are exceptions to every rule, that Ron Paul for example seems to understand the bigger picture.  

I believe we face bigger problems (for example economic collapse, global conflict and violent suffering) and if I'm skeptical of anything its that a group of men and women will be able to get together and implement social, political and economic policies that bring the temperature of the earth down.  What is humanity's record of effectiveness when it comes to global political and economic organizations, what precedent in history do you use as an example of a group of men and women ever creating anything near the size and scope of creating an international organization that can bring the earth's temperature down?

What has mankind done on that kind of scale?  The UN?  NATO?  FIFA?  They're all corrupt, totalitarian, thuggish and in the case of the UN and NATO genocidal killers.  There is absolutely no precedent of humanity ever coming close to such a thing, scientifically speaking, such an endeavour by a group of human beings would be impossible.  

P.S. would I prefer that the world produced 1,000 scientists or 1 Peter Tosh?  I'll take the working class hero because its something to be, that's not to say there might not be 1 or 2 scientists in that 1000 who could stand up and have an interesting, creative thought in their head(s).

BigJim's picture

We have not only been listening to scientists, we've been comparing what they have to say. And on the topic of AGW, the skeptical ones are a lot more convincing than the believers.

Bendromeda Strain's picture

If you had much experience with scientists you would understand this, most of them are kind of religious about truth.

That may be so, but it doesn't necessarily describe the most vocal and or prominent of the species. The more hot button the issue (origins, climate etc), the more this seems to be.

BandGap's picture

As someone with a PhD in chemistry, I find your lack of knowledge of the facts concerning this topic disappointing. And, as soemone who signed a petition along with over 30000 scientists worldwide (over 8000 PhDs), I find your comments disengenuous. I have a very good understanding of this topic if you would care to discuss. Please start with the mathematics behind the "Hockey Stick Model" used in Mr. Gore's comedy/magic act movie. Explain to me how that inflection occurred to demonstrate his (incorrect) point that this so-called phenomena of global warming is accelerating.  You, being a gifted physics major, should have to problem with that. It's called a lie by most of us.

Please explain why ocean levels haven't risen while you are at it. It is science used for political ends.

CO2 is what is referred to as a lagging indicator.  And humans do affect climate, but in a very, very small way.  Look to the sun for answers.

Gunther's picture

Then you should have some understanding of math too.
The differential equations describing the climate can be solved numerically but the error in that solution grows exponentially over time, making the calculations diverging from reality more and more.
Somebody who knows how the climate will be in a century needs to explain that he (or she) solved this problem.

My background is process engineering, infrared absorption of CO2 is well understood.

Simple water vapour is a good greenhouse gas too, but once it condensates and becomes clouds it starts to reflect sunlight and - cools.

malek's picture

Makes one wonder how many other physics majors, like you, assume that "all the others of my kind know" and because scientists rarely lie, it must be true.

In other words, how many physics major people really checked the facts, theories, and models themselves and on their own concluded it to be very likely? (as there is no absolute truth for predicting the future of a complex system of which you don't understand everything or control almost everything)

Triggernometry's picture

I wish that were true.  While any good scientist should be a healthy skeptic, the data grows more and more conclusive by the day.  One thing often overlooked is human energy pollution.  Aside from carbon pollution, humans put out massive amounts of energy into the atmosphere.  

Why can't you hear your favorite radio station if you're too far away?

Because the energy dissipates into the atmosphere as heat.

What about all those power plants near rivers or large bodies of water?

They are allowed to "borrow" water for cooling purposes so long as its returned less than 6o C above what it started. But even a small power plant borrows millions of gallons per day.  There are thousands of such plants in the US alone.  

But don't cities have their own heat effect which distorts temperature readings?

Indeed, but temperatures measured in bumfuck rural areas have also been increasing. Even if you want to ignore the fact that cities hold more solar thermal energy, they create exponentially more of their own heat, via hot auto exhaust and Joule heating of all those electronics.

The bottom line is that even if burning fossil fuels created ZERO carbon, we would still be adding to global temperatures by simply burning stuff that was nowhere near as hot when we dug/drilled/pumped it out of the ground.

Nobody should be choked with taxes, but whether its man-made or man-assisted, climate change will choke massive amounts of lives from crucial resources.  As far as the energy industry is concerned, I won't be concerned they're overtaxed until they stop posting record profits while simultaneously posting record tax benefits.

Bendromeda Strain's picture

Yeah right - those "bumfuck" stations can generate some interesting heat sources of their own.


XitSam's picture

Why can't you hear your favorite radio station in the Lynx Galaxy (QROK-We rock the galaxy!)?

a) Because the energy dissipates into the aether as heat.

b) Inverse square law.

BandGap's picture


Climate has been changing forever, and it will continue to do so when mankind is a memory.

ElvisDog's picture

the data grows more and more conclusive by the day

What data are you talking about? The average global temperature has been trending down over the past few years. And even if you accept the global warming computer models (and if you do I have a bridge to sell you), they predict a very modest 1-2 degree rise in average temperatures over the next few decades. Do you honestly think that life on Earth is so delicate that a 1-2 degree rise in temperature is a catastrophic event? I've written this before, but can you tell the difference when you go outside if it's 56 degrees or 57 degrees? I think not.

ElvisDog's picture

The global warming crowd has no answers, no viable energy plan, nothing

Not only that, but they are like the old generals fighting yesterday's war. Every year the threat of man-made runaway global warming predicted by the academics and true-believers becomes more and more discredited, but like true cargo cultists they can't let go of their ideology. Here's the reality that they must eventually face: we (the human race) will use every last drop of oil we can squeeze from the ground because, all things considered, it's the most convenient, most useful energy source we have.

Fukushima Sam's picture

"One cannot rationally simulateously believe in man made global warming and be against nuclear energy."

Sure you can.  Both are sure tickets to the end of man.  The only difference is the manner of transport to the final destination.

defender's picture

If only we could capture the energy released by the flame wars on these energy topics, we would be set for the next ten centuries for our energy needs.

Your Creator's picture

Cold fusion Rossi E-cat Italy.

fnord88's picture

Sounds like a scam. I hope not, cause it would change everything, but things that are too good to be true and all that........

Hopium Dealer's picture

As Fukushima's guitar gently weeps...

cranky-old-geezer's picture



Chernobyl, TMI, Fukushima, etc wouldn't have happened if those reactors were thorium molten salt, an inherently safe nuclear reactor technology demonstrated back in the 50s.

But TMS reactors don't produce plutonium for bombs, so the much more dangerous uranium water (or graphite) moderated reactor technology was chosen.

DoChenRollingBearing's picture

Thorium reactors I read might be a safer form of nuclear energy.

Re green energy, I have my doubts, but I am no expert.  Look what happened to the solar companies lately when the various .govs started taking away the subsidies.  Windmill turbines?  Maybe.  Other renewables?  That will take time to play out, and we will have to see what the EROEI would be in each case.

fnord88's picture

Nuclear power without government subsidies would look much worse.

ElvisDog's picture

I saw a chart that stated the energy sources with the best EROEI were hydro, coal, and non-deepwater oil. Solar and windpower have an EROEI close to 1 meaning that we can't run modern society on them. At best, they will only be niche energy sources good for certain locations.

Piranhanoia's picture

Please poison us?  Won't you please?  We have to have the lights on all night long because we're scared of the dark. We have to drive to get the kids at school because it is a block away.  Please keep using coal so we can all die from lung disease?  We want that so much?  Come on, you have to keep advertisements going in video and in giant colors all night long because someone just might see it if you do.  Please give us nuclear plants built so they are cheap and leak and can't stand up to a flood or an earthquake on a world where quakes are common place?  Put them next to our rivers so our water can be poisoned by the run off from coal, or gas or oil, or nuclear fuel and venting?  Please?  Please give all our money to the oil companies that don't pay taxes on profits and don't pay to clean up spills that ruin entire regions, destroy rivers,  poison the ocean creatures of the gulf of Mexico and make it a dead zone.

We don't want any of that nasty solar energy that is free because we can't make money on it or cough the rest of our lives away so you can profit. Don't even consider shutting down the hundreds of faulty dangerous reactors and create thousands of clean ones using a controlled fuel that can't be used to make bombs.  Don't consider spending anything on shielding and protecting a primitive process that can never actually be tamed or controlled and will escapse, every day, every week, month year since they first split the atom.  So what if Honshu is dying, and it will kill the other islands, the rads will continue higher in the ocean because the idiots don't know how to fix what they got broke. They made their favorite food poisonous and tell their people to shut up and not complain because your children are dying and the workers cleaning it up disappear if they are dying so the statistics won't look quite as bad. 

What an advertisement by a fucking shill for the industry of death.  Put up solar,  let it sit, it feeds the grid.  More wind, more solar,  more clean KW/MW/GW to feed the needs. Who cares if the cost is slightly higher and we can go back to using oil for only those things that absolutely require it like medicines and critical fuel applications.  

I vote no, I would like my children to have a chance at surviving the dark ages, even if you don't.  One small piece of advice. Include all the ramifications of using nuclear fission instead of leaving out the final solution to sterilizing the planet because you don't fucking know how it works.  Bite the bullet. It isn't likely to go off no matter hard you chew.  Bite the fuel rod, your dead in a couple days.  And your body will be hot for thousands of years.

A Pox on your Mox.

ElvisDog's picture

If you and people like you want to stop using oil, coal, and nuclear energy, then you have to accept a return to an 19th century way of life with a 19th century level of human population. No two ways about it. Wind and solar energy have an EROEI barely above 1 meaning net-net the produce very little energy. I notice very few of the green crowd who don't drive around in a car on an asphalt road to Starbucks to sit in a plastic chair while drinking coffee that was shipped from halfway around the world in an oil-powered cargo ship.

BigJim's picture

Did we have better technology in the 19th century than the 18th? and was the technology in the 18th century than the 17th?

Suggesting that we'll all suddenly go back to 19th C living conditions if we go back to a similar energy footprint is just plain wrong. Electricty, computers, recreational flying (we know how to make flying machines from cloth now, for god's sake), bicycles... these genies aren't going back into the bottle unless mankind experiences almost total worldwide extinction.

Tea and coffee were drunk throughout Europe back then, too, BTW... they had these things called sailing ships, you see.

ElvisDog's picture

Slightly off-topic, but the first airplanes were made from cloth. The stuff they painted onto the cloth was highly flammable. The biggest fear of WWI fighter pilots was that their planes would catch fire because the whole thing would go up like a Roman candle.

Yen Cross's picture

 The grim reality, is the fact I have to read { 12 } , paragraphs condensed into [ 4]?   Back slIDE?

Global Hunter's picture

Are you communicating with somebody or something in some sort of code on these pages?

BigJim's picture

From what I can determine, Yen Cross is an experimental, autonomous, 'befuddle' bot that has somehow escaped from its originating DARPA lab.

Yen Cross's picture

 G.S.  TOO BIG to Bury!     Where in the hell is my DAISY!

catch edge ghost's picture

You won't have any problems if you ignore them long enough.


Mark123's picture

Just look at rush hour traffic going in and out of any major city....massive consumption of energy not to mention the production of vehicles.  Then think about how much real stuff that we really need that comes out of that big downtown.  What a monumental waste of energy and human effort.


People will look back on this time in total disbelief. 

Global Hunter's picture

First they try to herd people from the land into cities, then they give them vaccines, drugs, GM food, fluoride etc, turn them into mass consumers and most importantly totally DEPENDENT on the state for simple things like heat for their apartments/homes and water.  

Now they turn the screws because everybody is broke and industry needs that cheap energy to produce "stuff".

prains's picture

People already look directly at this time in disbelief

MoonshineDelight's picture

WTH is wrong with nuclear?  3 reactors simultaneously meltdown in Fukushima and how many dropped dead from radiation posioning? Zero?  More folks died this year in grain tower accidents than the worst nuclear accident in 25 years.  Bust some atoms and send the middle east back into the stone age.

Fukushima Sam's picture

You are not paying attention.  Any deaths are being covered up as much as they can. 

This guy died.

It seems these people died.

Apparently no one really knows the conditions of the workers.

This guy isn't dead yet, but probably soon will be.

The thing about radiation is how long it can take people to die from it.  Most deaths will be due to cancer, which can never be traced to a single incident like getting hit with a bullet to the brain can.  Expect to see many more deaths in Japan over the next few years.  Of couse, by then people like you will have forgotten about the cause.

Even more scary is the genetic damage to the species over time.  Expect the number of birth defects in Japan to increase dramatically and to continue in future generations.


haskelslocal's picture

You anti-global warming nutjobs need your own catagorical name, for it's been too long now that you've been allowed to hide in your rhetoric laced, change nothing attitude. And please, it's bleedingly obvious that any reference to Al Gore only dates you and makes you an insignificant member of any useful and true coversation. You numbskulls can't even read for Christ's sake. The IEA spells it out clearly as does common sense. Regardless of your anti-everything and slam everyone stance, we are committed regardless to short term sameness and the loudest green energy ever called Efficiency remains blatantly ignored by the sellers of everything that burns.

Global Hunter's picture

I hereby summon you to bring the earth's temperatures down by 1.8 degrees and lower the levels of the ocean.


jomama's picture

it's not a matter of being anti-.  

data shows the planet's climate is changing.  no one is arguing that.

the remaining debate is to what extent it has been influenced by mankind.

Global Hunter's picture

Good point and humans are a big part/aspect of the planet, I'd be shocked if we didn't have an influence on temperatures.  Humanity faces much bigger threats and more potential suffering from other sources

mayhem_korner's picture

the loudest green energy ever called Efficiency remains blatantly ignored


Yes, efficiency.  Let's improve the AFUE ratings of heating systems 20% and offset that by increasing housing size by 25%. 

We've been on the veritable edge of "green" energy for what, 50 years now?  It's just around the corner, trust us.  Well, it isn't.  Why don't we just remove unneeded regulations and let the market decide.

"Anti-global warming nutjobs" has a nice ring to it.  Like "anti-choice."  Being against something fallacious shouldn't be cause for persecution.  :D

Bicycle Repairman's picture

When you compare the MPG for vehicles in Europe versus the USA, it is obvious that efficiency in this area could do a lot.  How much energy is wasted on long transmission lines of the national grid?  Local production would be more efficient.  Political problems abound.

ElvisDog's picture

The IEA spells it out clearly as does common sense

Let me remind you how government and academic research works (and it's more true for academic research). To survive and advance you need to get published and get research money based partly on your publications. Papers are submitted to peer-reviewed journals where they are approved or not by one or more senior researchers in the field. The field of climatology at the upper levels is completely dominated by advocates of catastrophic global warming. They have a vested interest in promoting and maintaining that ideology. Any paper that comes to them disputing global warming gets rejected. No publications = no notoriety = no research money. The researchers know this and as consequence there is a natural tendency to write papers that support the global warming thesis. You play along to get along.

The above was a long-winded way of saying that the fact that most senior level researchers support the thesis of man-made global warming is more an example of group-think than it is of whether man-made global warming really exists.

haskelslocal's picture

Elvis, It is true that scientific study is peer reviewed and to get anywhere contrary to popular belief, one must take baby steps if any steps at all. I get that. Look at the food(s) industries, cattle, milk, grains. In every way possible we all can realize (if we want to) that to eat a cheeseburger just might cause heart disease. But we'll never hear a press release saying "eat raw foods or die". Every industry is protected and mostly for profiteering. If I was the first person to ever sell milk, I'd find all of the positive reasons for people to drink it and sell it under claims of positive health benefits. When anyone ever challanged it, I'd fight it to my death. I'd pay for studies either proving my claim or disproving theirs. I'd set up peer reviews that put the money in the pocket of science that protects my interests. Without me these scientists would cease to exist. I pay, they play along to get along. Forget the fact that I later find out that the Casin protein has been proven to cause cancer or that drinking milk actually depletes calcium stores. I'd ignore that for proof is in the studies and when a study contradicts my desire, I reformulate the study. 

So to agree with you which I partially do, I'd need to know a few things.  How do you prove that climatology research is dominated by advocates of catastrophic global warming? (Where is the chart I can look at that puts scientists on sides so I can see how many are for and how many against?) And if it is stacked this way, what is their incentive? Who is paying their bills? And if there's no industry paying the bill, then what incentive does a mass majority of scientists have in believing in something that doesn't come from a financial bias? Why would any group have an incentive to stack research against industries that pay for their well being? Unless of course it's because they see something real. Or maybe, the same arguement you apply agaist may be used in game theory actually agaist you and you just don't see it. Maybe.