Why Renewables Can’t Replace Fossil Fuels


Solar panels and wind turbines are widely considered essential in the fight against global warming.

They are installed in many places, providing benefits such as reduced electric bills due to net-metering.

But it’s not that simple.

The Intermittency Problem

Solar and wind energy are often seen as perfect solutions to clean up fossil-fueled power systems.

The core issue is simple: solar panels and wind turbines can’t provide constant power.

Coal plants run 24/7, but solar and wind don’t.

Solar panels only generate power about 20% of the time due to night, clouds, and seasonal changes.

This means they can’t replace coal or gas plants that run all the time.

When solar or wind power drops, fossil fuel plants step in to fill the gap, making true replacement impossible.

The Storage Challenge

Many hope that batteries could store enough energy to bridge these gaps.

However, current technology can’t economically store enough energy for long periods, like a cloudy week in winter.

Hydrogen as an alternative also falls short due to inefficiency and high energy costs.

The Feasibility of Scaling Renewables

To store and use energy efficiently from solar and wind, far more infrastructure is needed—double or triple the current amount—which isn’t feasible by 2050.

Hence, relying solely on these renewables won’t meet our goals.

Early adopters of renewables, such as California and Germany, already face grid instability and blackouts, highlighting this problem.

Media Perception vs. Reality

Despite the media’s optimistic portrayal, renewables alone can’t sustain energy needs.

They do help reduce emissions but can’t replace fossil fuels entirely.

With growing energy demands, especially from industrialization and electrification, robust, reliable power is essential.

The Solution: Nuclear Energy

The solution is nuclear energy.

After the 1973 oil crisis, France transitioned to nuclear, now generating over 70% of its electricity this way, making their power some of the cleanest, cheapest, and most reliable in Europe.

Other countries are following suit, building new reactors to reduce fossil fuel reliance.

The U.S. Lag in Nuclear Development

The U.S., however, lags behind.

Decades ago, fear and pressure halted nuclear expansion.

Today, 20% of U.S. electricity still comes from aging reactors, with few new ones planned.

Overly strict radiation limits, set far beyond what’s necessary for safety, have hampered nuclear growth.

Nuclear Energy’s Safety Record

Nuclear energy, despite myths, has an unmatched safety record.

In 70 years, fewer than 200 deaths have resulted from nuclear accidents, while fossil fuel pollution causes millions of deaths annually.

Nuclear power is cleaner and safer than any other energy source, producing no CO2 and less waste than even solar.

Investing in Nuclear for the Future

To truly mitigate climate change and meet future energy demands, the U.S. must invest in new nuclear power.

Countries worldwide are already doing so, and American innovators are developing safer, cheaper, small modular reactors.

Conclusion: Embracing Nuclear for a Sustainable Future

Renewables contribute to reducing emissions, but they can’t replace the coal plants needed when the sun isn’t shining.

Only new nuclear power plants can do that.

If nuclear development doesn’t accelerate, climate goals will not be met, and global energy leadership could be compromised.

Conclusion: Embracing Nuclear for a Sustainable Future

Nuclear power is crucial for replacing fossil fuels and meeting energy needs.

By learning from countries like France and investing in nuclear technology, the U.S. can secure a cleaner, safer, and more reliable energy future.

It’s time to recognize that renewables alone aren’t enough and embrace nuclear as a key part of the energy strategy.