This week Mark Thurber, Associate Director for Research at the Program on Energy and Sustainable Development at Stanford University, visited IFN. His research includes various aspects of the use of energy sources, which is a hot topic in today’s United States as President Trump has said that he “will put an end to the war on coal”. Thurber explains that “as long as gas prices are low there will not be much coal used in the electricity sector”.
What will happen in regards to climate change och energy sources?
U.S. coal consumption has been dropping: “Coal was formerly used to produce 50% of the US electricity. Today it is 30% and still dropping”. This is due to low natural gas prices, Thurber explains, adding that “as long as gas prices are low there will not be much coal used in the electricity sector”.
Mark Thurber is almost certain that the Trump administration “will not be a constructive force in international climate talks”.
Still, Mark Thurber mentions an opportunity that might (or might not) arise under the Trump administration: nuclear energy. “Every nuclear plant that is closing down is a real tragedy for the environment”, Thurber says, because the nuclear energy is usually replaced by fossil fuels. In the US many of the working nuclear facilities are fairly old and it is not always cost effective to bring the plants up to date. “Perhaps President Trump will be comparatively supportive of nuclear power research?" However, Thurber says it is too soon to know.