Wind and Solar Prove the United States Does Not Need a Bridge Fuel: Renewables are Ready Now
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This study set out to address whether nuclear energy would be a better bridge fuel than natural gas for the United States to address emissions reductions more quickly. However, this study also analyzed whether a bridge fuel was necessary at all, rather, were renewable energy sources readily deployable now. The study looked at eight different metrics of the energy sector across three energy sources: natural gas, nuclear energy, and renewables (combined onshore wind and utility solar photovoltaics). The eight metrics analyzed were broken down further into quantitative metrics: cost, implementation speed, and CO2 emissions and qualitative metrics: public opinion, available capacity, environmental impact, reliability, and needed policy. A meta-analysis was performed and the data from which was used to evaluate the impact of each metric on each energy source. The impacts were normalized within each metric. Finally, a multi-criterion decision analysis tool was developed using the normalized data so that scientists, policymakers, academics, etc. may use it to determine the best-case-scenario energy source given different input weights of each metric. When all metrics are weighted/valued the same, nuclear energy does prove to be a better bridge fuel than natural gas. However, renewable energy performs even better, proving that the United States does not need a bridge fuel.