Episode 127: Are wind and solar the only low-pollution sources of electricity generation?

Jay Apt, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business and in the CMU Department of Engineering & Public Policy, Discusses low pollution electric power sources.

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Emissions & Generation Resource Integrated Database (eGRID) from the Environmental Protection Agency

Nuclear Energy and the Environment from the Nuclear Energy Institute

Renewable Electricity Generation from the US Department of Energy


Transcript

HOST: Have you ever wondered whether wind and solar are our only options for low pollution electric generation? On this week’s Energy Bite, Jay Apt, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, has some answers.

APT:  When I was a boy in the early 1950s, the US has 30 percent of its electric power generated by low pollution sources. Of course, that was mainly hydroelectric power. And the amount of hydroelectric power has stayed fixed while demand for electricity has shot up. So hydro’s power share has been diluted to a few percent.

HOST: How much of our electric generation is low in carbon pollution today?

APT: The policies that have increased wind and solar has brought us up to about 13 percent, including wind, solar, biomass, hydroelectric power, and geothermal power. But our total low carbon electric power is a little over 30 percent.

What is the difference between the 13 and 30 percent? It’s nuclear power. Nuclear power has no pollution and has other attributes that some of us find undesirable, however it is no question that it emits much lower pollution than some of our fossil fuel sources.

HOST: Which low pollution source of electric generation do you favor? Take our poll, see the results, and ask your energy questions at Energy Bite dot org.

ANNOUNCER: Energy Bite is a co-production between 90.5 WESA and Carnegie Mellon’s’ Scott Institute for Energy Innovation.

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