In 2014, I made the strong assertion that China’s track record on wind and nuclear generation deployments showed clearly that wind energy was more scalable. In 2019, I returned to the subject, and assessed wind, solar and nuclear total TWh of generation, asserting that wind and solar were outperforming nuclear substantially in total annual generation, and projected that the two renewable forms of generation would be producing 4 times the total TWh of nuclear by 2030 each year between them. Mea culpa: in the 2019 assessment, I overstated the experienced capacity factor for wind generation in China, which still lags US experiences, but has improved substantially in the past few years. My thesis on scalability of deployment has remained unchanged: the massive numerical economies of scale for manufacturing and distributing wind and solar components, combined with the massive parallelization of construction that is possible with those technologies, will always make them faster and easier to scale in capacity and generation than the megaprojects of GW-scale nuclear plants. This was obvious in 2014, it was obviously true in 2019, and it remains clearly demonstrable today. Further, my point was that China was the perfect natural experiment for this assessment, as it was treating both deployments as national strategies (an absolute condition of success for nuclear) and had the ability and will to override local regulations and any NIMBYism. No other country could be used to easily assess which technologies could be deployed more quickly.
Clean Technica 5th Sept 2021 read more »