22 October 2007/News N°226

Renewables ‘More Sensitive To Climate Variability’ Than Nuclear, Says Report

22 Oct (NucNet): The possible impact of climate change on electricity production in the US is likely to influence future technology choices and investments, according to a new report by the country's Climate Change Science Program (CCSP).

The report*, 'Effects of Climate Change on Energy Production and Use in the United States', was published on 18 October 2007 and is the third in a series. It evaluates emissions, energy and the economic implications of stabilising greenhouse gas concentrations.

According to the report, most of the impact on fossil and nuclear electricity components is likely to come from “modest changes” in water availability and/or cycle efficiency.

“Because renewable energy depends directly on ambient natural resources such as hydrological resources, wind patterns and intensity, and solar radiation, it is likely to be more sensitive to climate variability than fossil or nuclear energy systems that rely on geological stores,” says the report.

It says renewable energy sources are connected with climate change in “very complex ways”, adding: “Their use can affect the magnitude of climate change, while the magnitude of climate change can affect their prospects for use.”

“Of the two largest US renewable energy sources, hydroelectric power generation can be expected to be directly and significantly affected by climate change, while biomass power and fuel production impacts are less certain in the short term,” says the report.

The report says wind power is the fastest growing renewable energy technology in the US with total generation increasing to 14 billion kilowatt hours in 2005.

The coordinating lead author of the report, Thomas Wilbanks of the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, said: “This report represents the first overview of impact vulnerabilities, opportunities, and adaptive response issues for the energy sector in the United States.”

He said the report is notable because unlike some other sectors of interest regarding climate change – such as water, agriculture, and human health – the energy sector has not been the focus of climate impact discussions over the past decade.

The first report in the series was published in May 2007 by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. US federal agencies plan to deliver the remaining 19 reports during the next year to increase scientific understanding related to climate change.

* The third report is available in full on the CCSP web site (

>> Related reports in the NucNet database (available to subscribers)

Report Endorses Nuclear’s ‘Mitigating Role’ In Climate Change (World Nuclear Review No. 18, 4 May 2007)

New Climate Change Report Considers ‘Widespread Development Of Nuclear’ (News No. 166, 11 July 2007)

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Source: NucNet


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