Clean Power

Published on July 19th, 2013 | by Giles Parkinson


Graph Proves People Love Solar & Wind, Not Coal & Nuclear

July 19th, 2013 by  

This article first published on RenewEconomy

Today’s graph of the day comes courtesy of The Climate Institute, and its new publication, Climate of the Nation. The results are from a poll of 1,009 Australians (over 18) taken in the first week of June.

Solar and wind are by far the most popular, and wind gained the most support from the previous year, jumping from 59 per cent to 67 per cent. Coal and nuclear were the least popular, with nuclear falling from 20 per cent to 13 per cent. No fossil fuel gained more than 28 per cent approval, and geothermal and ocean energy have yet to capture the imagination.

But while this graph is self explanatory, there were some interesting findings along gender lines.


The Climate Institute said the poll found that solar and wind were both more popular among women than men. Indeed 93 per cent of women voted for solar among their top three preferred energy sources, compared to 80 per cent of men. A similar difference was detected in wind, which attracted 73 per cent support from woman and 60 per cent support from men.

The other big variation along gender lines was for nuclear, which got a vote from 22 per cent of men and just 5 per cent of women. Nuclear gained most approval among older men, but not at all by the younger generation.

Geothermal energy also seemed to be a man-thing, with 28 per cent of men nominating the technology, but only 19 per cent of women.

Wind energy, incidentally, was more popular in regional areas (70 per cent) than it was in the cities (65 per cent).

The other interesting graph was this one below, which will come as a crushing disappointment to the Coalition hardliners who think that a campaign against renewable energy sources might be a popular thing. Nearly half of those surveyed reckoned the renewable energy target should be higher than its current minimum level of 20 per cent, a further 29 per cent believed the target was about right and only 9 per cent thought it should be lower.


Check out our new 93-page EV report, based on over 2,000 surveys collected from EV drivers in 49 of 50 US states, 26 European countries, and 9 Canadian provinces.

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About the Author

is the founding editor of, an Australian-based website that provides news and analysis on cleantech, carbon, and climate issues. Giles is based in Sydney and is watching the (slow, but quickening) transformation of Australia's energy grid with great interest.

  • Others

    “a coal-fired plant that opened in 1950, spewed 3.4 million pounds of corrosive acids into the air in 2011”

    No 1 wants to close this type of coal fired plant, they only want to close nuclear.

    Green Germany is starting 5,300 megawatts of coal fired power plants.

    Go Celebrate.

    • Bob_Wallace

      You didn’t actually believe something that Goddard published, did you?

      Lord, FSM, almighty….

      Germany’s new coal burning plants are replacing (not adding to) the older plants that either have been or will soon be decommissioned. These new plants were planned and construction was started prior to the decision to close nuclear plants.

      By 2020, 18.5 gigawatts of coal power capacity will be decommissioned, whereas only 11.3 gigawatts will be newly installed.

      Furthermore those plants will be more efficient, releasing less CO2 per unit electricity produced than are the ones they are replacing. And the new coal plants are partially load-following.

      BTW, Germany is still on track to be CO2 free by 2050. So even these new coal plants don’t have a long life expectancy.

  • Others

    During the 1973 Oil crisis, advanced countries raced to build nuclear power to defend themselves from OPEC. In the next 20 years, they built 300 reactors and this also forced OPEC to reduce oil prices as many oil fired power plants went nuclear.

    After the Chernobyl incident, the King Coal & Big Oil indirectly joined forces with environmentalists to scaremonger nuclear. And out came the winners.

    Coal in Power sector
    Oil in Transport sector.

    And with conventional oil depleting, the extra heavy oil is emerging and its a very dirty energy source. After upgrading it to transport fuels using natgas, its left with a substance called Petroleum Coke (Petcoke) which is carbon rich and its going to be used in power plants.

    I wish cleantechnica posts articles about this. For more info on this

    • Bob_Wallace

      During the great battle between the villages of Xroius and Zaweras in 12,032 BC Ugg and Zimmh of Xroius raced to pile up as many rocks as possible in order to defend themselves from the Zawerasites.

      It’s no longer a battle between fossil fuels and nuclear. Just as we no longer fight with rocks, or even sharpened sticks.

      The 21st Century is all about renewable energy.

  • Others

    So you people are not willing to accept Nuclear as clean energy source.
    So this is what you get

    This is the type of Petroleum we are going to consume in the future as there is plenty of them. Its just a Coal Oil Hybrid.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Nuclear is a clean energy source.

      It’s just too expensive.

      We’ve got cheaper alternatives than nuclear, oil or coal. And the “fuel” is good for 6 billion years or so.

      So why create more danger in a world that is already dangerous enough?

      • Others

        For base load, you have to install 8 – 9 watts of Solar for every watt of nuclear. Now it will be costly.

        Solar is good for peak power especially for cooling of stores and offices and homes where some one stays home.

        • Bob_Wallace

          “For base load, you have to install 8 – 9 watts of Solar for every watt of nuclear.”

          Sorry. That makes no sense.

          Again, capacity is not the important measurement, it’s LCOE. Capacity is one of the inputs used to calculate LCOE.

          • Others


            LCOE of Nuclear is 112 and Solar is 156.

            Again in industrial areas where 24 by 365 power supply is needed, they won’t go for Solar unless it has some coal / natgas backup.

          • Bob_Wallace

            The LCOE for solar was $156/MWh. Even the EIA who has a terrible history of over predicting the future price of solar set it at $144/MWh.

            Solar is now being installed in Europe for around $1.50/watt. Once we catch up with Europe’s efficiency that will mean solar for under $100/MWh.

            Nuclear has to sell its output at $112/MWh. Nuclear has to average that return across 24 hours/365 days (omitting the 10% scheduled down time).

            With wind on line at $86/MWh for more than half of all hours nuclear loses $26+/MWh when it has to lower its asking price enough to force wind to curtail.

            In order to stay in business nuclear has to jack up its selling price above $136/MWh for the non-windy hours.

            Natural gas sells for even less than wind.

            Between wind ($86), natural gas ($67) and solar (<$100) nuclear's goose is cooked. It's kind of simple math.

          • Others

            Natgas price won’t stay that low for long. It will follow Oil.
            So solar prices being so cheap is fantastic. That’s because of China’s mass production.

            Same thing is going to happen with Nuclear as well.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I can’t see how China is going to lower the cost of nuclear.

            Their cost advantages come from the inability of Chinese citizens to oppose reactors and China’s cheap labor. And their ability to just move populations and build wherever they wish.

            China can’t send thousands of workers to New Jersey/wherever to build with cheap labor and the US won’t jam permits through without giving citizens an opportunity to express their views. Western countries will not use their militaries to move people out of their coastal communities and turn the land over to reactor construction.

            There’s no way to lower materials costs unless you eliminate safety systems or under-build components.

            If you think China is going to manufacture reactors in factories and ship them to sites then you have to explain why China is not doing that now. China’s leaders are largely engineers. They know how to cost out projects.

            BTW, China is not building new reactors as fast as some would have you believe. It’s taking them more like six years, not five or less.

            I really don’t understand the attraction that some have to nuclear. When it’s obvious that nuclear has never lived up to its promises and shows no reason why it might in the future some continue to believe that things will be different in the future.

            Why is not over a half century of failure not enough data?

          • Others

            If it costs $7 billion for 1 GW plant, certainly its too much.

            These guys are just overcharging for a reactor which they said is modular and has lesser components and inbuilt security. Its just like LED bulb that costs $20.

            So Chinese are finding a lucrative market here. They already bagged 1 export order from Pakistan for their CAP 1400. Its partially pre-fabricated and they will transport it in ship. Besides they are plunging into Thorium and Pebble bed reactor. Certainly Uranium along with Gen-2 and Gen-3 reactor is going down. Future will have only Gen-3 +, Gen-4, MSR and so on.

            Don’t think they cannot make it.

            They have 29 reactors under construction. This could cut down the expensive Coal imports.


            BTW, Coal prices also increased 3 fold between 2000 and 2012. Its because of the increase in Diesel price.

            Expect the price of coal, oil & natgas to increase and this will favor nuclear.

          • Bob_Wallace

            China’s pebble bed reactor failed. They couldn’t control the temperature well enough to make it functional.

            China started those 28/29 reactors before the price of wind and solar dropped to where they now are. What China builds going forward may be a lot less nuclear and a lot more renewable. We’ll have to wait and see.

            Thorium would not make reactors cheaper to build. It’s the construction cost and financing that really kill new nuclear.

            I realize that you believe that there’s some whiz-bang new reactor that will be built that will turn things around, but the nuclear industry does not agree with you.

            If there was a profitable reactor design then the nuclear industry would be building them.

            They are not.

            Rising coal/oil prices benefit both nuclear and renewables.

            Since renewables are cheaper and faster to install than nuclear then rising fossil fuel prices benefit renewables more.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Here’s a short piece you should read.


            And then you should read this longer one…


            The energy business is changing very rapidly. When existing nuclear plants in the dozens are in danger of going bankrupt how could you expect a new plant with it’s big monthly “mortgage” to be profitable?

          • heinbloed

            Thanks for this one:


            Easy reading for the lay-men, substantial data.

          • heinbloed

            Herr Terium, CEO from RWE , says ‘thank you’ as well, Bob Wallace.


          • Ivor O’Connor

            Somebody like you Bob needs to fix these external references in wikipedias so they don’t show nuclear as being cheaper than all renewables in the future as the LCOE currently does. See the above reference he uses.

          • Ivor O’Connor

            Somebody needs to fix these bad official sources.

      • heinbloed

        ” Nuclear is a clean energy source. ”
        No. It isn’t.

        • Bob_Wallace

          It depends on how the term “clean” is being used.

          The lifetime CO2 footprint for nuclear is down around wind and solar, perhaps a bit lower than solar.

          If we didn’t have better options then nuclear would be a route off fossil fuels we should consider.

          • heinbloed

            ” The lifetime CO2 footprint for nuclear is down around wind and solar, perhaps a bit lower than solar”

            This is not correct.

            Check the lifetime CO2 emmissions for Sellafield and La Hague.

            And the other emmissions as well.

            Training, controlling, paying and equipping, transporting and housing the guards for millions of years for the atomic waste sites (and the back-up of replacement waste sites in case the first one fails) will cost more CO2 than any other waste site.

            Or any other kWh of electricity ever generated.



            The eternal stories of atomic terrorism from Sellafield and La Hague don’t have to be linked?

          • heinbloed

            “The lifetime CO2 footprint for nuclear” is never ending.

            Emitting CO2 for ever – in human calculations.

            It is the worst CO2 emmitter from all primary energy sources.

          • Bob_Wallace

            From a NREL study of lifetime carbon footprints…

            Coal median 1,001 grams

            Nuclear median 12 grams (4 to 110 gram range)

            Wind energy median 11 grams (3 to 45 gram range)

            Amorphous silicon solar 20 grams

            Cadmium-telluride solar 14 grams

            Copper indium gallium diselenide solar 26 grams

            CSP trough solar 26 grams

            CSP tower solar 38 grams


          • heinbloed

            Someone has forgotten the long-life of atomic waste in these numbers.
            Germany has to dig out atomic waste from it’s largest waste dump.
            And they don’t use electric dynamite to dig a new one, plain CO2 emmitting explosives.

            Every time there is a ‘red alert day’ the French army sends out thousands of troups guarding atomic sites. Incl. anti-aircraft units.
            Which do not train with hot air ballons and cross bows ….

            None of these CO2 emmissions are included in these NREL numbers. Be it the war for oil or the war against atomic terror.
            Math for idiots, economics for clowns.

    • mds

      You spout disinformation to try and justify nuclear. Lame. You need to understand it is not just that solar and wind are cheaper sources of electricity than nuclear now, although that should be enough, the other important point is wind, solar, AND energy storage are still rapidly dropping in price. Newer, lower cost, technologies are in the lab or working their way to the market for all three. Nuclear only has promises of a better, safer, and lower cost solution. Safer and lower cost usually work against each other. That is one of the dilemmas that has already caused problems for nuclear.

      Nuclear is a dead end. Less coal is being used already in the USA and this trend will continue. NG will be the next fatality a few decades out.

      Solar, wind, and energy storage are just going to be the lowest solution going forward. They will dominate. Look at the cost trends.

  • Matt

    “Wind energy, incidentally, was more popular in regional areas (70 per cent) than it was in the cities (65 per cent).”

    Do I read that as wind is more popular where the turbines are? Effect of economic impact?

    • Calamity_Jean

      “Do I read that as wind is more popular where the turbines are?” That’s the way I interpreted it. It’s not much of a difference, however.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Could well be the economic impact. Wind farms have made a large difference to a lot of Midwest towns and counties which were struggling. The extra tax revenue is helping schools, fire, police and infrastructure.

      Could be that people who live in really windy places have a more realistic idea of how much the wind actually blows as opposed to people who live in places we would never install turbines.

  • xclvet

    More men work for oil companies than women?

  • renewable energy is overdue

    Those who still think nuclear is competitive are in for a rude awakening. I live in Tennessee, a state big on hydro, coal and nuclear power. Almost 20 years ago the CEO of one of their ‘distribution affiliates’ (in a family setting) confided to me that ‘nuclear (at the time ) is the cheapest, however, the long-term costs especially when figuring in ‘de-commissioning’ and )not even long-term storage of nuclear and contaminated material) would seriously change the equation. However, many utilities may just speculate on declaring bankruptcy at that distant point in the future. Until then it is ‘gunning profitability’ until the facilities become obsolete, the cracks start showing, the costs keep growing… beyond expectations! Then it’s bankruptcy and re-organizing with losses being ‘socialized’! Bet on it! For humanity into infinity! Now 20 years since those comments, many nuclear facilities are barely squeaking by being ‘re-certified’! The only way the American short-bus will get a tune-up, is when countries like Germany and China keep pointing the way. Last year, renewables made up the largest portion of new power generation in China, not coal or nuclear… the Chinese are worried. After all, unlike American politicians (who have mostly law or village idiot back-grounds) in China they are virtually all scientists in the Polit-bureau! And worried!!!

  • Justin Pearce

    93% of people know you can use statistics to prove anything

    • Bob_Wallace

      99% of the people who bring that claim into a discussion just had their opinions shot down by facts.

      • Justin Pearce

        not disagreeing with the general ideas being presented here – the results are not at all surprising – but in my opinion this survey is just a bit of fluff..

  • Others

    Australia has less than 0.33 % of the World’s population and their opinion is not World’s opinion. Besides Australia does not have any Nuclear plant, so I don’t know how their men choose Nuclear.

    Any way if they install both Solar and Nuclear, then its good for the World’s climate.

    • Ronald Brakels

      Australia has no nuclear power generation but has the world’s largest uranium deposits and is the second largest uranium producer in the world. But nuclear generating capacity will never be built in Australia as it is an economic impossibility. It simply cannot compete in Australia’s electricity market.

      • Others

        Australia’s electricity market runs on Cheap Coal. Factor in the cost of pollution and global warming and Nuclear will be cheaper.

        Just few years ago, because of severe drought, they voted out a conservative leader.

        • Ronald Brakels

          How high the real cost of coal is doesn’t prevent nuclear power in Australia from being an economic impossibility. This is because solar PV is cheaper than nuclear, wind is cheaper than nuclear, natural gas plus agricultural capture and sequestration of CO2 is cheaper than nuclear, solar thermal plus storage is cheaper than nuclear, geothermal energy is cheaper than nuclear, and even coal plus agricultural caputre and sequestion of CO2 is cheaper than the asking price for the Hinkley C nuclear plant and that’s before insurance costs are considered. So nuclear power generation is definitely an impossibility in Australia.

          • Others

            Nuclear has 85 – 90 % capacity factor. Solar has 10%, so for base load power generation you need 9 watt of solar for every 1 watt of nuclear. Even at installed cost of $3/watt, you have to spend $27/watt + battery for storage.

            Do the math and see.
            I support solar, but only for peak generation and not for base load.

            BTW, Natgas is cheaper only here in USA, rest of the World where the gas prices are index to Oil prices, its lot more expensive.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Again, the “only solar” argument gets pulled out of the trash bin by pro-nuclear forces.

            No one suggests a solar-only or wind-only grid. The solution is to use whatever clean, affordable supply is available when it is and fill in with clean, affordable dispatchable generation and storage when it isn’t.

            With wind and solar cheaper than new nuclear it makes no sense to build expensive generation when we can do the job faster, cheaper and safer.

          • Others

            Since you are a moderator of Solar Portal you have to keep insisting on Solar only and generously you are accepting Wind also.

            In the absence of new nuclear build in the 1990’s and 2000’s, its the Coal that stole the show and as you can see from bp stats, by volume, Coal increased from 4,701 million tons to 7,864 million tons.

            Some Americans are saying that USA has 2 trillion barrels of Oil, and that’s Sands Oil (Bitumen) and we may end up using it.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I have never suggested “solar only”. Or “wind only”. Or “wind and solar only”. What makes sense is a mix of renewable inputs. Adjusted to meet local area availability.

            Doing mod duty on this site has zilch to do with my opinion. Mod duty is pretty much being the housekeeper and stall cleaner. And school playground monitor.

            Coal rose to 57% of our electricity generation. In 2012 it was down to 37%. (It will take a temporary small bump up in 2013.)

            I really doubt we’ll use all the oil in the ground. One reaches a point at which it takes more energy to extract and refine it than one gets out.

            We seem to be switching over to electricity for personal transportation. Stay tuned….

          • Bob_Wallace

            Look, you do not further your argument by posting crap.

            Solar capacity in the US averages well over 15%. 23% in the sunny Southwest. 18% in the not-so-sunny Northeast. 15% even in the least sunny Seattle area and Alaska.

            Furthermore, it does not matter what the capex of generation is. What counts is the LCOE of electricity produced. There are costs over and above capex. Financing, fuel, staffing come to mind.

            And storage is not unique to solar (or wind). We built a massive amount of storage (21 GWh) back when we were building nuclear reactors in the US to carry off-peak nuclear to peak hours.

            And all sources of generation must be backed up. When a nuclear reactor goes offline it is necessary to have another source of electricity ready to go.

          • Ronald Brakels

            Others, If you give me your address I’ll send you a free microscope in the mail. This is because while I think you have a clue, I don’t think it can be very large and you might have trouble finding it. My state, South Australia, generates over half its electricity from natural gas and the wholesale prices is around 6 cents a kilowatt-hour. So why don’t you look at any new or proposed reactor in the developed world and show me one that is competitive at 6 cents a kilowatt-hour. (Some new ones you can check out are Olkiluoto, Flamanville, Vogtle 3, and Hinkley C.) In fact, why limit ourselves to the developed world? Find me any reactor in the world that can compete with 6 cents a kilowatt-hour electricity. Just don’t forget to include the cost of insurance.

          • Others

            You are looking only at today’s cost.

            In 2000, Oil prices were $25/barrel and as the years progressed, it went up to $100/barrel. Along with Oil, the natgas prices also increased.

            Don’t expect oil prices to stay at $100/barrel in another 10 years. It will go up and along with it, the natgas prices will also go up.

            So its cheap in Australia now, but they are also building LNG plants and if they start exporting, prices will creep up.

            But for nuclear, initially the price will be more because of capital cost, but down the line, prices will go down while that of Coal, Oil and Natgas will go up.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Reading this article might help you better understand the future of nuclear energy…


          • Ronald Brakels

            So you got nothing, no current reactor that can compete in Australia and only promises that they will be able to compete in the future. And this is at a time when both wind and solar are dropping in price and are cheaper than new coal or gas while nuclear power has had 60 years to become competitive with coal and gas and has failed to do so. So why don’t you contact me when you do have a reactor that can produce electricity for under six cents a kilowatt-hour, including the full cost of insurance and until then we’ll continue to use cheaper methods of cutting emissions.

        • Justin Pearce

          Nuclear power as we know it will simply never happen in Australia..
          So many barriers exist: Social, environmental, economic, scale, expertise, etc

    • JamesWimberley

      You are correct that the poll was of Australians and not of people in general. However SFIK polls in the USA, Britain, Germany and so on give similar results. Zachary might try to pull them together some day.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Not really.

      Each country has only so much of their capital that they can spend on electricity capacity construction. Building a nuclear plant takes huge amounts of capital and there is no payoff in extra energy on the grid for many years.

      Solar panels and wind turbines start producing electricity in hours/weeks/months (depending on the scale of the project).

      The sooner we get clean energy on the grid, the less fossil fuels we burn.

      • Others

        So far, it was just 3 countries (America, France, Japan) that were exporting nuclear reactors and with the Triopoly, they charged higher price.

        Now Chinese are coming up with their CAP 1400 nuclear reactor and they will offer much lower prices. It will force the Triopoly to reduce the prices as well just like Nissan Leaf is forcing other EVs prices to be reduced.

        Of course Russia is also starting an export front.
        Then we can see.

        • Ronald Brakels

          Your clue is not very large, is it? Australia built its first nuclear reactor itself and imported its second one from Argentina.

          • heinbloed

            Germany exported to Brazil, one plant is still unpacked waiting for errection. After being stored in tropical climate for decades there isn’t much of a guarantee on the bits and pieces.

            Pakistan got their atomic power plant from the Netherlands. Who got their from …..

            Where did Northern-Korea went shopping?
            And Iran?
            Wasn’t there one in Jordan as well? And Irak?
            And the Aztecreactor in Mexico – an archeological finding coming from space?


            This aprentice boy seems to like playing the atomic clown to prove “atomarians are idiots ” 🙂

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