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Tsinghua University provincial-level lifecycle study finds fuel-cycle criteria pollutants of EVs in China could be up to 5x those of natural gas vehicles due to China’s coal-dominant power mix

12 January 2013

Master-1.img-001
Consumption-based power mixes and NG transmission distances by Chinese province in 2010. Credit: ACS, Huo et al. Click to enlarge.

A province-by-province life cycle analysis of natural gas and electric vehicles by a team from Tsinghua University concludes that while, from the perspective of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) and criteria pollutant emissions, natural gas vehicles (CNGVs) are “an option with no obvious merits or demerits”, electric vehicles (EVs) are “an option with significant merits and demerits in this regard” due to China’s heavily coal-based electricity generation (national average of about 77%).

In regions where the share of coal-based electricity is relatively low, EVs can achieve substantial GHG reduction, the team reports in a paper in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology. However, the fuel-cycle PM10, PM2.5, SO2, and NOx emissions of EVs could be up to five times higher than those of ICEVs (internal combustion engine vehicles) and CNGVs. While the increases in PM10 and PM2.5 emissions are less important because of the low contribution of light duty vehicles to national PM10 and PM2.5 emissions, the NOx and SO2 increases are significant enough to notably change total national emissions, they conclude.

...China has made a firm commitment to improve its air quality. In February 2012, the China State Council approved its first national ambient air quality standard for PM2.5, which will come into effect by the end of 2015. Since substantial coal use (equivalent to 50% of global coal consumption) is the primary reason for the poor air quality, China is considering setting a cap on its use. According to the 12th Five-Year Plan of the China Coal Industry (2011−2015) formulated by the National Development and Reform Commission of China (NDRC), coal consumption will be limited to 3900 million metric tons (MMT) by 2015, which will present a challenge given the tremendous increase in coal use within the last 5 years (2300 MMT in 2006 and 3200 MMT in 2010).

Setting a cap on coal use while maintaining economic growth at a high level means that China must resort to other energy sources, such as natural gas (NG) and renewable fuels, to fill the energy supply gap. Since coal-use control is a near-term goal, NG appears more adequate than other energies to replace coal in the short term, because of its greater availability and technological maturity. Under such circumstances, there will be a battle between coal and NG in many sectors, particularly the on-road transport sector, which is exclusively petroleum-dependent but currently facing a worldwide oil shortage.

The enormous growth in vehicle population in China (from 5 million in 1990 to 100 million in 2011) has raised serious concerns about energy supply security...Many fuel-substitute measures have been taken, both coal-based and NG-based, with electric vehicles (EVs) and compressed natural gas vehicles (CNGVs) as their representatives. China recently launched several EV demonstration programs (e.g., the Ten Cities, Thousand Vehicles Program) and issued numerous economic policies favoring the purchase of EVs. In April 2012, the State Council approved the “Development Plan of Energy-Efficient and New-Energy Vehicles (2012−2020),” which plans to achieve accumulated sales of 500,000 new-energy vehicles (including hybrids and EVs) by 2015, and 5 million by 2020. [Earlier post.] Since EVs use electricity as fuel and Chinese electricity is primarily generated from coal-fired power plants (national average about 77% in 2010), EVs can be regarded as a coal-based option.

...The tremendous vehicle growth and the oil shortage portend competition between coal and NG for vehicle fuel. The preferred fuel path(s) will depend to a great extent on their climate and environmental performance, which is of national concern. The fuel paths may perform differently by region because energy-use characteristics differ significantly by region.

—Huo et al.

The Tsinghua study examines fuel-cycle (well-to-wheels, WTW) emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs, including CO2, CH4, and N2O) and criteria pollutants (PM10, PM2.5, SO2, and NOx of conventional gasoline internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEVs), gasoline hybrid vehicles (HEVs), EVs, and CNGVs in present-day China (2010) and projected in the future (2030). It also assesses the strengths and weaknesses of EVs and CNGVs from a perspective of climate change and environmental impact.

The team chose to conduct the study at the provincial level because using national average data might severely underestimate or overestimate results for technologies that primarily operate in designated cities—i.e., EVs and CNGVs in China—because energy-use characteristics differ significantly by region.

Fuel-cycle emissions of EVs are generated mainly from power generation processes, while those of CNGVs are from NG recovery and processing, NG transportation (via pipelines), NG compression (using electricity), and vehicle operation (NG combusted in engines). Fuel-cycle emissions of both EVs and CNGVs in China are highly subject to a variety of regional factors.

For the study, they applied the GREET (Greenhouse gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy use in Transportation) model from Argonne National Laboratory, adjusted with Chinese energy and emission data.

Among the findings were:

  • GHG emissions of gasoline ICEVs and HEVs are generally the same across provinces, since the emissions occur mainly during vehicle operation. EVs and CNGVs show “remarkable” variations in such emissions across provinces. Although EVs have slightly higher GHG emissions than ICEVs and CNGVs in the North and Northeast regions where the share of coal-based electricity is large, EVs can achieve a greater GHG reduction benefit than HEVs in the Central and South regions, owing to their large hydropower shares.

  • Compared to EVs, CNGVs have very limited benefit in the reduction of GHG emissions, no more than 10% in most provinces; CNGVs might even increase such emission in eastern provinces that obtain NG from thousands of miles away. On a national average, EVs and CNGVs can reduce fuel-cycle GHG emissions per kilometer traveled by 20% and 6%, relative to ICEVs. In the future (the year 2030), improving vehicle fuel economy will reduce GHG emissions of ICEVs, CNGVs, and EVs.

  • If China decreases the share of coal-based electricity in the mix from 75% to 65% and increases combustion efficiencies of coal-fired power plants from 35% to 40%, EVs are expected to have a 27% lower fuel-cycle GHG emission level than ICEVs.

  • Although EVs have a greater GHG reduction benefit than CNGVs, they may increase life-cycle emissions of criteria pollutants, simply because coal is heavily involved. Improving the fuel efficiency of EVs from 20 kWh/100km to 14 kWh/100km, decreasing the share of coal-based electricity from 75% to 65%, increasing combustion efficiency of coal-fired power plants from 35% to 40%, and the new emission standard for new-build power plants will help reduce the PM emission of EVs. Nonetheless, EVs still have 2−3 times higher PM10 emissions than ICEVs, and coal mining will be the dominant source, contributing more than 70% of the fuel-cycle PM10 emissions.

  • On a national average, CNGVs can reduce NOx and SO2 emissions by 18% and 22% compared to ICEVs, respectively, but EVs will increase NOx and SO2 emissions by 120% and 370%. EVs have lower NOx fuel-cycle emissions where hydropower accounts for a large share. Similar to the PM results, EVs in provinces importing a large percentage of coal and electricity (e.g., Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangdong) could have local NOx and SO2 emissions comparable to ICEVs.

Huo2
Fuel-cycle GHG emissions of EVs, CNGVs, gasoline ICEVs and HEVs. Credit: ACS, Huo et al. Click to enlarge.

 

Huo3
Fuel-cycle NOx and SO2 emissions of EVs, CNGVs, gasoline ICEVs, and HEVs. Credit: ACS, Huo et al. Click to enlarge.

The original reason for developing EVs and CNGVs is to substitute oil, not to reduce emissions of GHGs or any pollutant. Both EVs and CNGVs will clearly achieve this goal by saving over 98% of oil use. Any additional benefits will help these vehicles to earn more credits, but any negative environmental influences caused could make them lose in competition, especially at the present time when China is working very hard to clean its air.

...fuel-cycle NOx and SOx emissions of EVs are expected to substantially decline in the near future. Until then, however, these NOx and SO2 emissions are a disadvantage of EVs in comparison with CNGVs. One current solution is to develop EVs in accord with the cleanness levels of regional power plants, first in places where electricity is cleaner, e.g., with ample non-coal electricity or more emission control equipment installed in coal-fired power plants.

Ranking provinces by emission levels of their power plants is helpful in formulating the EV promotion plan. In this way, EVs are competitive with CNGVs. Further, using EVs in the large coal or electricity-importing provinces (e.g., Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou) may not exacerbate local air quality because the majority of emissions originate in other provinces.

The competition between CNGVs and EVs will continue. In addition to their potential impact on the climate and ambient environment, it is important to compare the potential impacts of developing CNGVs and EVs on the energy supply system. Assuming LDGVs travel 18000 km per year, replacing all LDGVs with CNGVs will increase national NG demand by 70%, but EVs will only increase electricity demand by 5% and coal demand by 2%. Obviously, EVs have much smaller impacts on national energy supply. However, CNGVs may have a much lower cost than EVs, which requires further study.

—Huo et al.

Resources

  • Hong Huo, Qiang Zhang, Fei Liu, and Kebin He (2012) Climate and Environmental Effects of Electric Vehicles versus Compressed Natural Gas Vehicles in China: A Life-Cycle Analysis at Provincial Level. Environmental Science & Technology doi: 10.1021/es303352x

January 12, 2013 in China, Climate Change, Electric (Battery), Emissions, Lifecycle analysis, Natural Gas | Permalink | Comments (87) | TrackBack (0)

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Unless the findings of the most recent studies, confirming that NG/SG leaks make that source of energy as bad as coal, are used? None of the fossil fuels are clean. USA lives in a make believe world with regards to Blue clean NG/SG.

The increased use of Shale Gas and Shale Oil with increase harmful emissions much more than claimed and probably almost as much as Clean Coal?

The best way out is to use cleaner energy sources such as Hydro, Wind, Solar, Waves, Geothermal and Nuclear and leave fossil fuels underground until such times as we learned how to burn them without harmful emissions.

However, 'Freemen On The land' and 'Sovereign Groups' and 'OIL + Coal + NG/SG Lobbies' will resist and effectively delay the use of cleaner energy sources for decades?

There are methane leaks in gas distribution networks that are reducing slowly as old cast iron mains are replaced with plastic. But these are fixed, same for any throughput.

So additional gas demand does not add any more leaks.

Shale gas is a very good source of gas as there are minimal leaks - for obvious reasons, the gas is valuable and the nature of the process means there are no opportunities for leaks

We are entering a Golden Age for gas and if we can have CCS - Coal Can Stayunderground in China and India we have a chance of saving the planet. Europe must stop its mad dash for coal generation and follow the US with great investment in gas, wind and solar.

baldwincng:

Unless they move Europe, it is largely considerably to the north of most of the US.

Sunshine is pretty vital for solar, although of course since the costs can be largely landed on others that has not stopped umpteen gigawatts being installed in Germany.

It has also not stopped that being a bloody silly idea.

I wonder if they bothered to look at the electricity mix that will be installed in China when these cars ACTUALLY hit the market.

49 GW of solar by the end of 2013
80 GW of Wind by the end of 2015
40 GW of Nuclear by the end of 2015

This would only account for about 23% of China's current generating capacity, but at least they're making a dent in it. By the time EVs are really part of the mix, it will hopefully be more.


http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2013/01/china-to-add-49-gw-of-renewables-in-2013-solar-stocks-soar?cmpid=rss

http://cleantechnica.com/2012/11/30/china-forecast-to-hit-150-gw-installed-wind-capacity-by-2015/

http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf63.html

Oh, I forgot, they also have over 220GW of hydro, so that is over 40% of their total power generation would be non-carbon by 2015.

And their one party system means that they don't have another party undermining them and stopping these projects. They just do it.

Of course, their one party system also means they could just change their mind and spew pollution faster than all the rest of the world put together.

But I've spent a lot of time in China and dealt with their politicians. They are scared of their people getting sick of the smog and doing the next revolution so they won't ignore it forever.

Dave D:
Capacity factors for wind and solar.
Actual output from them will be nothing like what you have quoted.
The numbers you give would mean something like 11 GWe of solar, and 25GWe of wind.

In 2011 of Chinese electricity output:
'68.7% of China's electricity comes from coal.'

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coal

They just do it.

That IS the advantage of a one party system, they take action to make progress. They do not try to derive "good" for the people from the aggregate self interests of corporations.

Also, 220 GW of hydro is the nameplate rating, not what the available flow of water can generate continuously.  Hydro is fast-reacting generation for peaking and spinning reserve, with average generation a small fraction of the rated power.

If China wanted to reduce both its pollutant and CO2 emissions, it would use IGCC with a warm-wet gas cleanup using powdered olivine to react with the H2S and CO2 in the syngas.  The resulting clean syngas would have nearly zero sulfur and much less carbon than the raw gas.

When urban China pictures are mostly obscured by engine smog and inhabitants live in gas/face masks, how is 30% efficient ICE vehicle pollution better than 90% efficient EVs?

Related, a new fourth US federal research 'hub', this one for batteries - $2M/month for five years was established in 2012 November.

It's said this is because of the Bush 'bio hub' success.

Any truth to this?

Germany has reduced its CO2 emissions since 1990 by 26%.
Germany has increased its renewable proportion in the last decade by almost 20% thanks to the introduction of feed-in tariffs.
Germany is currently export world champion. However, despite the fact that Germany reduced its fuel imports, it still pays €100 billion for fuel imports (€60 billion more than 2004!).
The renewable industry in Germany not only generated hundred-thousands of jobs and reduced fuel consumption, it also increased Germany's tax revenue.
The profits of the four big German utilities are actually higher than the costs of the feed-in tariffs.
German coal production has received almost 5 times more subsidies since 1970, than what all the feed-in tariffs have been amounted to since their introduction.
Thanks to the low feed-in tariffs, the extra electricity costs is less than €1 billion per year, even if Germany were to continue to install 7.5 GW of PV per year (the US defense budget is over $1000 billion and is not reducing fuel dependence).
A PV system even on a German roof can easily produce more electricity than what the entire house underneath requires.
PV reduces peak electricity prices in Germany and PV & Wind complement one another very well (page 26 & 27): http://www.ise.fraunhofer.de/de/veroeffentlichungen/veroeffentlichungen-pdf-dateien/studien-und-konzeptpapiere/aktuelle-fakten-zur-photovoltaik-in-deutschland.pdf
Renewable power also reduced German wholesale electricity prices and Norsk has decided to triple aluminum production in Germany.

Well, well, well. Yet another study that shows in gory detail what I have literally been saying for YEARS on this blog:

Electrical vehicles (EV) pollute **more** CO2/mile than Hybrid Vehicles, because (a) there is still too much electricity that comes from coal, and (b) the time horizon for cleaning up the grid-mix to EV-usable levels AND at the same time provide the DOUBLING of the power ouput which will be needed to feed an EV fleet is on the order of several tens of years (think: only nuclear plants can do it), and in the meanwhile we are all much better off in terms of CO2/mile in developing highly efficient DIESEL HYBRIDS that can get 70+mpg with TODAY's technology.

Believing in the clean-electron-fairy is very bad for the planet and its people -- please do not fall for the EV hype. Do something that helps instead of harming, DEMAND diesel-electric hybrids NOW.

Davemart and EP, you're right, those are nameplate ratings and wind/solar have capacity factors. But at least they are going after aggressive targets, and I'm talking about 2013-2015 timescales.

It's not like EVs could really be anything more than 1-2% of the vehicle population before 2020 anyway. All of this would only START to make a dent from 2025-2030.

In the mean time, they just need to keep cleaning up their grid because they are going to have 100 million cases of lung cancer, COPD, etc on their hands and they'll find out what every Chinese dynasty, leader, Emperor, etc has found out for 10,000 years:
They may act like sheep for a few decades but every once in a while they love to revolt and cut off a few heads at the top.

Keep dumping pollution on the "peasants" over there guys. See what happens.

@globi:
What the 'renewables everywhere' industry is best at technologically is fake accounting.

I have been a supporter of solar for 40 years, and it horrifies me the way ideologues have hijacked what can be a sensible alternative if used sensibly, for instance somewhere that it is sunny.

With a ten for one differential between winter and summer sunshine at the latitude of Germany and the UK, solar is only good for destroying the economics of proper base load.

Power is no good if not available when needed.

All solar in Germany has done is provide a distraction as a fake 'alternative' to nuclear at a cost of around 130 billion Euros and counting.

Meanwhile it builds in fossil fuel use for decades to 'support' renewables, ie to provide 70% of the power, as more than 30% for renewables is a fantasy with anything like present technology.

France has far lower CO2 emissions than Germany, who admit that by closing nuclear power they have no chance whatsoever of meeting Kyoto targets.

Davemart:
Why are you slandering renewables and at the same time claim that you are supporting solar?
Since you've ignored the facts from Fraunhofer, here they are again: http://www.ise.fraunhofer.de/de/veroeffentlichungen/veroeffentlichungen-pdf-dateien/studien-und-konzeptpapiere/aktuelle-fakten-zur-photovoltaik-in-deutschland.pdf
On page 27 one can clearly see that PV and Wind complement each other very well, since there's always more Wind in the winter.
And on page 26 one can clearly see, that solar is produced when the power demand is higher and unburdens the grid during daytime (also because it can be consumed locally), such that less costly peak power is needed (which primarily means less gas and less black coal is consumed).
Even on the sunniest days in spring, German solar doesn't affect baseload power since the day-demand is still significantly higher than the night demand (on page 26).
Even the peak power plants in the Netherlands reduce their gas consumption, thanks to German roof top power: http://www.z24.nl/economie/artikel_374604.z24/Duitse_zonnestroom_legt_Nederlandse_gascentrales_plat.html
The feed-in tariffs for solar are currently between 11.78 and 17.02 cents/kWh (on page 8 of the Fraunhofer report). That's 14.4 cents/kWh on average. If Germany were to continue to install 7.5 GW of PV per year and the wholesale electricity prices stay at 5 cents/kWh, the net-costs (not giving any value to jobs, fuel import reductions, CO2-reductions etc.) of those PV additions per year amount to only €0.64 billion at 900 sunhours per year (that's just simple math).

If one already considers €0.64 billion roof top power a bloody silly idea (even though it just reduces fuel imports and keeps jobs), what does one have to think about the US defense spending which amounts to over $1000 billion? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_budget_of_the_United_States

Since 1970 Germany has subsidized coal with €398 billion, nuclear with €213 billion and renewables only with €67 billion, but mostly with feed-in tariffs and no taxpayer-money (subsidies): http://www.die-klima-allianz.de/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Soziale-Energiewende.pdf

According to the VDE Germany can go over 70% renewable power without building any storage: http://www.vde.com/de/Verband/Pressecenter/Pressemappen/documents/2012-06-11/etg-speicherstudie_bpk_2012-06-11-v5_handout.pdf

Bavaria already gets 10% of its power from its roofs and Bavaria went from 1% to over 10% roof-power in the same time frame Finland has been building one new nuclear reactor, which unfortunately is still not online. In addition, the US gets only 6.4 % of its power from hydro electric power plants. Does that therefore mean American hydro power must be useless?

@globi:
You definition of slander is fatuous.
As I said, I support solar where it is sunny.
In areas off the grid in Bangladesh etc where annular variability is small and it can save the cost of building out the grid in many areas it is a fine technology.
Nothing too difficult to understand there, is there?

You then provide links in German on an English language website.
Since I do not read German, I can't tell what particular sleight of hand they have used to justify the absurd there.

'Even on the sunniest days in spring, German solar doesn't affect baseload power since the day-demand is still significantly higher than the night demand'

Cherry picked data.
Why spring and not summer?

Either solar is neither here nor there, or it produces enough power to hit baseload, and so sources which could run all the time and amortise their costs are ruined economically.

The solar installing middle classes in Germany have simply offloaded much of the cost of their solar fads onto poorer people in rented accomodation etc.

This is done by not properly accounting for the true costs to the grid of power sources which cannot be varied according on demand:

'The study considers six technologies in detail: nuclear, coal, gas, onshore wind, offshore wind and solar. It finds that the so-called dispatchable technologies - coal, gas and nuclear - have system costs of less than $3 per MWh, while the system costs for renewables can reach up to $40 per MWh for onshore wind, $45 per MWh for offshore wind and $80 per MWh for solar. The costs for renewables vary depending on the country, technology and penetration levels, with higher system costs for greater penetration of renewables.'

http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/EE-Levelling_the_playing_field_of_grid_cost-2911128.html

And more on the study here:
http://www.oecd-nea.org/ndd/reports/2012/system-effects-exec-sum.pdf

And an another detailed analysis of those costs in the case of the UK here:
http://www.oecd-nea.org/ndd/reports/2012/system-effects-exec-sum.pdf

You don't make a sensible case by sticking two silly ideas like wind and solar together.
And solar works where it is sunny.
Doh!

In a way we are very lucky.

We now know fusion isnt an if but a when.. 30-50-100 years out maybe but not never.

We have come up with rather good solar and wind systems tho how they will react to climate change and resultant storms is an IF...

We now have fuel cell powerplants comming online more and more rapidly...didnt realy think id be saying that this decade or hell even next yet its happening.

10 years ago I realy didnt think we would have enough workable options now im thinking we just might manage it.

Jus7tme, suppose you compared EVs powered by CCGT's against 1960's cars with no smog controls.  That is essentially what you're doing by taking China's dirty old coal plants as the default case for electric power.

At this point I think the energy security of grid power is more important than raw fuel economy.  General security of energy supply is important, period.  Given that, I'd rather see flex-fuel PHEVs than diesel hybrids.  Diesel hybrid is a local maximum in fuel economy and pollution and sub-optimal in import dependence; the PHEV evolves to EV and the US grid is not dependent on overseas fuels, so there's no technological or infrastructure trap limiting progress and energy security is much greater.

Jus7tme

You just said what I have been saying over and over, here and elsewhere.

In the interim, we need to develop and put on the road millions of lightweight, highly fuel efficient automobiles. Turbocharged Diesel Hybrids can be built today that can hold their own on the expressways and still carry four people.

Unlike electrics, they would go hundreds of miles between fillups; all the while getting 100 mpg+. The infrastructure to serve them already exists and much progress has been made in developing renewable fuel sources for them.

Seems like the smart way to go from here.

An associated nuclear link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Safe_Confinement Construction costs were estimated as $1.4bn with a project time of five years.[10]

An associated gas link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j2Nc-kxWfmc

If it's fossil, it burns. If it burns, most of the energy is lost in heat and pollution in many stages - including discovery, drilling/mining, transportation, refinement, further transportation, distribution, etc.

In other words, fractions of fractions of fractions until the final fractional fossil energy turn of a shaft.

Does anyone commenting here use solar energy?

For less than two hundred(<$200), a <$100 marine battery, and one square meter clearly facing south, one can buy/install a Harbor Freight PV solar system providing free room/shop lighting for decades.

Add a ~$100 for an inverter (optional Kill-A-Watt wattage meter for measurements) if you want AC for a drill, small appliance, or electric bike and find that solar power works, is economical, and provides you nearly free electricity daily even years after purchase.

In Germany polution increases due to swithing to coal from nuclwar:

www.economist.com/news/briefing/21569039-europes-energy-policy-delivers-worst-all-possible-worlds-unwelcome-renaissance

Real power price from different power generation options(solar price starting at 24-to 42 $cnt/kWh):
www.greencarcongress.com/2011/07/epri-assesses-status-of-8-key-power-generation-technologies-for-us-estimates-of-capital-cost-and-lev.html

Lucas,

Where you going to get diesel for your diesel hybrids after 20 years when oil is over.

Same place you can get it today.

You grow it.

If we stretch it out by doubling or tripling our fuel economy Oil will last until the fusion powered transportation system evolves.

Nobody should be surprised that emissions will multiply in China and India concurrent with their higher growth rate, fast growing manufacturing facilities, exports + very large population (2.5+B)i.e. almost 4x (USA + EU).

By transferring industrial production from USA & EU to China and China, we created a major part of the problem.

Hydro, Wind and Solar power sources have not kept pace with increasing power demand. China and India had to quickly build many Coal fired power stations. The other alternative (Nuclear) is more costly and takes much longer to build. However, as air pollution multiplies, objection to nuclear power plants will go down and as many as 100+ reactors may be built in China and India in the next 20+ years.

Darius.
Germany's CO2-emissions were lower in 2011 than in 2010: http://www.spiegel.de/wissenschaft/natur/kohlendioxid-ausstoss-in-deutschland-geht-zurueck-a-825251.html
In 2010 renewables in Germany accounted for 16.4% and nuclear for 22.4%. In 2012 renewables in Germany accounted for 21.9% and nuclear for 16%. So, German nuclear was not replaced by coal but mostly by renewables. http://www.ag-energiebilanzen.de/viewpage.php?idpage=65

And of course PV has obviously reduced peak electricity prices during daytime, since PV has practically zero marginal costs (this is called merit order effect): http://ooe.gruene.at/fileadmin/oberoesterreich/benutzerinnen/presseunterlagen12/20120626_grafik04-sv.png

The reason why coal consumption primarily in Britain has increased is because of lower coal prices since the US is consuming less coal thanks to cheap shale gas (as opposed to Germany, Britain is intending to build more nuclear):
http://www.icis.com/heren/articles/2012/12/20/9626392/coal-tops-uks-q3-12-electricity-generation-mix.html

EDF wants up to £140/MWh for its new nuclear power plants in Britain and this doesn't include decommissioning: http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/markets/article-2187888/EDF-wants-taxpayers-cash-pay-nuclear-power.html
This is more than the feed-in tariffs for PV in the UK above 4 kW: http://www.ofgem.gov.uk/Sustainability/Environment/fits/tariff-tables/Documents1/FIT%20Tariff%20Table%201%20February%202013%20PV%20Only.pdf

Large complete PV systems are meanwhile built for less than €1200 /kW in Germany: http://www.photovoltaikforum.com/angebote-f41/97724-154kwp-1162eur-yingli-t85721.html
(and definitely not $4000 /kW as your link suggests).

Germany has been subsidizing coal and nuclear almost 10 times more than feed-in tariffs were paid for renewable energies: http://www.die-klima-allianz.de/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Soziale-Energiewende.pdf
So it's no surprise that coal is still being consumed in large amounts in Germany.

If nuclear proponents are interested in reducing GHG-emissions, why are they typically attacking renewables and not subsides for fossil fuels or the large utilities which operate coal power plants or SUVs or inefficient buildings?

Why would oneone want to pay more to utility companies and governments - whatever energy source they use for billing - while better options exist?

http://www.fastcompany.com/most-innovative-companies/2012/solarcity

DIY solar skips even most of the above company overheads, any ~50% utility transmission losses, taxes, etc.

Some say centralized fossil fuel electricity generation is essentually an upsized Honda generator, but with grid transmission losses, taxes, CEO salaries/benefits and their public service commission golf buddy rate setters.

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