Can renewables replace nuclear, other energy sources?

On the New York Times Economix blog, Nancy Folbre, an economics professor at the University of Massachusetts, argues that renewable energy sources like wind and solar could replace other energy sources, especially nuclear energy. Folbre draws on a 2009 Scientific American article by UC Davis researcher Mark Delucchi and Mark Jacobson from Stanford University, in which the two Marks argued that renewables could replace both fossil fuels and nuclear power — and still be cost effective.

The study was also quoted by Bradford Plumer in The New Republic March 16, and Plumer’s article was cited by Princeton economist and NYT columnist Paul Krugman the same day. Converting the planet to all-renewable energy would be a staggering task — but it is doable, Delucchi and Jacobson argue. Folbre makes the point in her column that the costs of renewable energy are falling, while the costs of nuclear power are rising, and likely to rise more if more regulations and safety precautions are required as a result of the continuing nuclear crisis in Japan.

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