Climate change is one of the greatest challenges society faces and it is becoming more acute every day, threatening not only our environmental health, but economic prosperity and political stability worldwide. Just last month the Scripps Institution of Oceanography indicated that the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere surpassed 400 parts per million (ppm) – a record high. Understandably, the scientific community is alarmed by this tipping point and its implications for the environment and sea-level rise.
Communities and companies around the world, including AREVA, are committed to creating a cleaner, more sustainable environment for future generations. Each year, Earth Day celebrations highlight the significant advancements society has made toward a cleaner environment over the last 40 years. However, we need to do more than just an annual observance of environmental consciousness. We need to consistently defend the planet’s economic well-being on all fronts, particularly on the energy front. That’s where AREVA comes in.
Clean energy sources like nuclear, solar and off-shore wind present tangible opportunities to address the challenges of climate change. In a move toward reducing carbon emissions, utilities around the world are pursuing lower-carbon generation and marrying traditional methods of power generation with renewable technologies. For example, Tucson Electric Power (TEP) has partnered with AREVA Solar on an innovative concentrated solar power addition to its dual-fueled coal/natural gas unit at its H. Wilson Sundt Generating Station. This new system will allow Sundt Unit 4 to produce enough power to serve more than 600 Tucson homes for a year. Without this technology, TEP would need to burn 46 million cubic feet of natural gas or 3,600 tons of coal to power the same number of homes. By relying on the solar steam generators instead, the project avoids creating 4,600 or 8,500 tons of carbon dioxide that would result from producing power with natural gas or coal, respectively. In addition, the project will help Arizona achieve its renewable energy standard, which requires electric utilities to generate 15 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2025.
As we continue to advance renewable energy technologies and work to address climate change, we need to recognize that the majority of emissions-free energy comes from nuclear power. As we transition away from traditional methods of power toward lower carbon generation, it is critical that we continue expanding our renewable capabilities while pursuing cleaner power generation that includes natural gas and nuclear power, which does not emit any greenhouse gases and provides reliable, round-the-clock electricity.
As a source of economic baseload generation, nuclear energy plays a prominent role in supporting safe and reliable power generation, without contributing to the carbon emissions that the deployment of renewable technologies aims to reduce. In fact, a recent study in the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology found that nuclear power reduced carbon emissions by 64 gigatons globally over the last four decades. In addition, it has prevented approximately 1.8 million air pollution-related deaths.
Our sustainable energy future will be realized through renewable and nuclear energy technologies, as they both support the critical objective of meeting present and future energy needs through low-carbon power generation. Take some time to learn about how nuclear and renewable energies are working together to fight climate change. I encourage you to speak to your local, state and federal representatives to share your support for a cleaner, greener energy portfolio in the United States. Let’s collectively take action to behave as though every day is Earth Day and, as responsible and engaged stewards of our planet, extend advocacy for the earth to the decisions that we make about energy.
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