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New Study: Renewables Save Carbon Faster than Nuclear Power

Boulder, CO – March 07, 2018. Renewable electricity, chiefly from wind and solar power, adds electricity generation and saves carbon faster than nuclear power does or ever has, according to a data-rich new study by Amory Lovins and three colleagues at Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI).

The peer-reviewed scientific paper, “Relative deployment rates of renewable and nuclear power: A cautionary tale of two metrics,” rebuts prior analyses claiming that nuclear power deploys faster than renewable power, and that nuclear growth would be a vital way to protect the climate but renewable growth is inadequate.

The RMI study details how such conclusions result from incorrect methodology and numerous analytic mistakes. The study reveals the need for care in making or interpreting claims about which technologies can and do deploy most quickly, and urges responsible scientists to stop repeating published errors.

Some past literature has asserted that nuclear energy can more quickly displace fossil-fueled electricity generation than modern renewables, but this has been based on a peculiar per-capita metric, perhaps useful for comparing countries but not technologies,” explains Amory Lovins, cofounder and Chief Scientist of Rocky Mountain Institute. His team found that “modern” renewable power (that is, excluding big hydroelectric dams) passed global nuclear output in 2016—and then, say preliminary 2017 data, further accelerated last year:

“Relative deployment rates of renewable and nuclear power: A cautionary tale of two metrics” was published in Energy Research and Social Science, Volume 38, pp. 819–822, April 2018.

To access the study, please see the article here. A separate peer-reviewed 2017 RMI study showed that closing distressed US nuclear plants and replacing them with efficient use would generally save more carbon than continuing to run them, because their operating cost is so high.

Media enquiries please contact:

Nick Steel, Senior Associate – Media Relations,  T: +1 347-574-0887, E:

About Rocky Mountain Institute

Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI)—an independent nonprofit founded in 1982—transforms global energy use to create a clean, prosperous, and secure low-carbon future. It engages businesses, communities, institutions, and entrepreneurs to accelerate the adoption of market-based solutions that cost-effectively shift from fossil fuels to efficiency and renewables. RMI has offices in Basalt and Boulder, Colorado; New York City; Washington, D.C.; and Beijing.

Media Team

Mark Grundy
Managing Director

Nick Steel
Sr. Media Associate