New research suggests renewable energy is more efficient than nuclear power, while Western Australia plans to phase out coal-fired electricity with renewable energy. Renewable energy may be key in reducing fossil fuels. (Image credit: Getty Images)
Countries looking to lower emissions and reduce reliance on fossil fuels are turning to alternative energy sources, such as nuclear power. Though it's often promoted as one of the best ways to eliminate fossil fuels, new research suggests renewables like wind and solar power might be the way to go. The University of Sussex Business School and the ISM International School of Management recently studied an analysis of 123 countries over the past 25 years and found that nuclear power did not reduce carbon emissions significantly as renewables did.
The study also revealed that combining renewable and nuclear power is a no go. When mixed together, they crowd each other out and limit effectiveness. "The evidence clearly points to nuclear being the least effective of the two broad carbon emissions abatement strategies, and coupled with its tendency not to co-exist well with its renewable alternative, this raises serious doubts about the wisdom of prioritizing investment in nuclear over renewable energy," says Benjamin Sovacool, a professor of energy policy at the University of Sussex in the UK.
Research suggests that new investments in nuclear power are risky since they don't achieve the same results as renewable energy. On top of this, many of the nuclear plants featured in the study are nearing the end of their lifespans and require more energy to keep them running. Other scientists still uphold nuclear energy as the only way to replace fossil fuels with efficiencies renewables can't match currently. So is it time to phase out nuclear entirely? Western Australia is already taking measures to convert to renewables.
More than half of Western Australia's remaining coal-fired electricity capacity may be phases out within the next five years and replaced with renewable energy sources, according to a new report. The whole-of-system plan finds that between 520MW and 890MW of the state's coal-fired power capacity will be shut down by 2025 as demand for renewable energy rises. The government has announced that Muja C's two units will be shut down in 2022 and 2024.
Not everyone is on board with this prospect. The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) warns that the power system could become unstable as early as 2022 with an increase in renewable energy. AEMO found that vast quantities of rooftop solar power flooded uncontrolled on to the system during the day, forcing out other generators like gas and coal fire plants. It's these conventional generators that keep the grid stable. Energy Minister Bill Johnston said while the shift to renewable energy is inevitable, it's vital to ensure the change won't compromise the system.
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