Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Post # 34: Natural Gas and Wind Energy Infrastructure Challenges

Yesterday I had the pleasure of speaking at the Infocast's 2011 Small Modular Reactor Seminar (see in Washington, D.C.  I spoke about the new Small modular Advanced High Temperature Reactor (SmAHTR) reactor concept my colleagues and I at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have been developing (more about this in a future post).

At any rate, the Infocast seminar featured a number of interesting speakers and panelists.  One of the panelists was David Mohre, Executive Director of the Energy and Power Division of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) – see .  During one of the Q&A sessions, Dave related a rather stunning bit of trivia I thought I would pass along here.

Many folks are touting what I call "silver bullet energy solutions" (or SBES for short) to our nation's energy challenges.  These are single-technology solutions that proponents believe with magically address all our varied energy solution challenges.  Among the most commonly mentioned SBES are natural gas and renewable energy.  Now for the trivia...

First, according to Energy Information Agency, the installed U.S. coal-fired generation capacity in 2009 was 339 GWe (  Dave indicated analysts have estimated the cost of building the natural gas pipeline infrastructure required to replace 300 GWe of coal-fired electrical generation with gas-turbine generators to $70-80 BILLION.  

Next, he related the estimate for the cost of building the transmission lines required to enable wind turbines to provide 15% of the U.S. electrical generation.  Are you sitting down?  $100 BILLION.

Then he noted that there's less public opposition to underground gas pipelines than to above-ground electrical transmission lines.

I should note that Dave did not cite the specific reference for either of these statements, but I will attempt to uncover it and modify the post when I do.

Just two more challenges to achieving a sustainable energy future....

Just thinking...

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