Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Energy Density

Patty Griffin - Rain

Our World in Data: Nuclear produces less greenhouse gas than wind or solar.

Other than his warmongering over China, I'm generally a big fan of Noah Smith. (Please check out Toward a shallower future: Adversity isn't worth the price of adversity - excellent and important.) 

However, he has said nuclear wasn't actually more energy dense than solar, "because you have to build the big thing." (I assume the cooling tower, which not all power plants have.)

Let's consider this.

The nuclear power plant for our area is the Palo Verde Generating Station. It produces nearly 4,000 megawatts and serves portions of the states of Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas.

It takes 30 acres of solar panels to produce one megawatt (not counting area needed for batteries). Thus, it would take 120,000 acres (almost 200 square miles) of solar to produce as much power as that one power plant, which covers, in total, 4,000 acres

By my math, that means, in terms of land use, nuclear is 30 times more energy dense than solar.

(Cost info.)


Jesse Jenkins:

...[In] The most cost-effective of our net-zero scenarios, [wind] spans an area that is equal to Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee put together. And the solar farms are an area the size of Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.

Ezra Klein:

Holy crap.

Jesse Jenkins:

So these are big, big areas.


Tony K said...

I’m surprised a. Nuclear plant takes so much space. 4000 acres is about 6 sq miles, like 3x2 miles. Hm. Interesting.

Matt Ball said...

My understanding is it is security perimeter. The buildings themselves don't take so much room.