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Nuclear power: Recalculating the facts

April 15, 2011 |  7:49 pm

Fukushima nuclear power plant British environmentalist and author Mark Lynas, who in an Op-Ed on Sunday, April 10, advocated for nuclear power despite the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant in Japan, emailed us with the bad news that there was a "huge mistake" in his commentary. Lynas had referenced a calculation from the Breakthrough Institute, an Oakland climate change think tank, to explain how much land mass would be required in Japan to replace its nuclear power with wind power (or solar power). The institute's report said it would require a 1.3 billion-acre wind farm, covering more than half of Japan's land mass. That's way off, because the acreage figure should have been 1.3 million.

It was the Breakthrough Institute that alerted Lynas to the error. Then Lynas did his own calculation. He now concludes that replacing nuclear power with wind power in Japan would require a wind farm covering  less than 3% of the nation's landmass. For all the gory details, see Lynas' calculations (and his mea culpa) here, the Breakthrough Institute's corrected report here, and a post on Climate Progress blog slamming us here.

RELATED:

Nuclear power debate: Is our fear rooted in propaganda?

Why nuclear power is still a good choice

U.S. nuclear industry: Not safe enough

Unlearned lessons from Chernobyl

Photo gallery: Aftermath of a meltdown

--Susan Brenneman

Photo: Security guards dressed in hazmat suits approach a car at the main gate of the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Credit: Steven Herman / April 13, 2011

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