1. This is an excellent comparison. Both countries were hit hard by oil embargoes in 1970s and set off on different paths to achieve energy independence. France built nuclear power plants and replaced 12% of it’s power generation from oil in electricity sector, and currently meets all of it’s energy needs (including transportation) with 50% foreign imports (so not terribly effective overall). It has very high per capita energy consumption, low electricity prices, ranks 130 in GDP growth, has 9.8% unemployment, national health care and strong safety net, and more. Denmark focused on efficiency and conservation (energy consumption held stable last 30 years), wind capacity to 20% for electricity, and North Sea oil and gas exploration. Denmark is entirely energy self-sufficient (minus small coal imports), and exports oil, gas and electricity (so it’s been largely successful in meeting energy “independence” strategy). Denmark has low per capita energy consumption, high electricity prices, ranks 155 in GDP growth, has 7.8% unemployment, national health care and strong safety net, and more.
    Tale of the Tape:
    France 2008 (EIA Country Profile): 62,600,000 population.
    Oil production: 80,000 barrels/day
    Oil consumption: 1,945,000 barrels/day (.031 barrels per capita/day).
    Net imports: 1,865,000 barrels/day
    Natural Gas production: 32 billion cubic feet.
    Natural Gas consumption: 1,732 billion cubic feet. (27,667 cubic feet per capita)
    Net imports: 1,704 billion cubic feet.
    Coal production: 0.
    Coal consumption: 21,000,000 tons.
    Net imports: 23,000,000 tons.
    Electricity generation: 535 billion kWh.
    Electricity consumption: 447 billion kWh.
    Primary energy production: 5 Quadrillion Btu
    Primary energy consumption: 11 Quadrillion Btu
    Energy intensity:
    CO2 emissions: 428,000,000 metric tons CO2. (6.837 metric tons CO2 per capita)
    Denmark 2008 (EIA Country Profile): 5,500,000 population
    Oil production: 288,000 barrels/day
    Oil consumption: 181,000 barrels/day (0.032 barrels per capita/day)
    Net Exports: 107,000 barrels/day
    Natural Gas production: 356 billion cubic feet.
    Natural Gas consumption: 163 billion cubic feet. (29,636 cubic feet per capita)
    Net Exports: 195 billion cubic feet.
    Coal production: 0.
    Coal consumption: 7,000,000 tons.
    Net imports: 8,200,000 tons.
    Electricity generation: 36 billion kWh.
    Electricity consumption: 34 billion kWh.
    Primary energy production: 1.1 Quadrillion Btu
    Primary energy consumption: 0.874 Quadrillion Btu
    CO2 emissions: 5,000,000 metric tons CO2. (0.909 metric tones CO2 per capita)
    So where does this point: the major benefit of efficiency and conservation for reducing CO2 emissions on per capita basis, and how over-reliance on nuclear (while not simultaneously developing alternative local fuel sources) does not lead to full energy independence but large imports of oil, natural gas, and coal. Each country has equivalent numbers for GDP growth and economic performance.

    1. EL, thank you for this additional information. I always find that one or two facts, without supporting context, often can create false impressions – that the reality is usually more ambiguous than the one or two ‘isolated’ facts would suggest. I was thinking just that as I was watching the video, and wanting more information – you’ve provided answers to some of my questions.
      I also wonder – how much has France spent on nuclear power plants (and all the related infrastructure – enrichment, waste reprocessing, enrichment, over the past 30 years, per capita, vs what Denmark has spent on Wind.
      How is it that France gets 80 percent of electricity from nuclear, but still has such high coal and gas usage? The Oil, I presume, is used as liquid fuel for cars, trucks, boats, planes, etc, but whats all the gas and coal used for?
      I also have another question, based on the information provided above. I noted the following few lines, which I found a bit puzzling:
      Coal production: 0.
      Coal consumption: 21,000,000 tons.
      Net imports: 23,000,000 tons.
      Coal production: 0.
      Coal consumption: 7,000,000 tons.
      Net imports: 8,200,000 tons.
      How is it that imports are greater than consumption on both countries? I would expect consumption and imports to be virtually identical in nations which produce no coal? Is this something where the definition of “consumption” doesn’t include certain uses of the coal (e.g. creating other materials/chemical from the coal, or turning it into coke for steel production, etc), but in reality, the coal is actually being consumed?

    2. “CO2 emissions: 5,000,000 metric tons CO2. (0.909 metric tones CO2 per capita)”
      You’re missing a zero. Multiply these numbers by ten.
      “… the major benefit of efficiency and conservation for reducing CO2 emissions on per capita basis …”
      Wow, you’re dense! What “major benefit”?
      Here are all the numbers you need:
      2008 Carbon-dioxide emissions per population (t CO2/capita):
      Denmark 8.82
      France 5.74
      Denmark’s emissions are 54% higher.
      2008 Carbon-dioxide emissions per GDP (PPP) (t CO2/2000 USD):
      Denmark 0.28
      France 0.21
      Denmark’s emissions are 33% higher.
      Efficiency, conservation, and windmills haven’t brought Denmark much.
      So where does this point: If you want to be energy independent, be a tiny little country next to a major oil-producing body of water that you can exploit. Then you will have self-righteous, obnoxious netizens, who are bad at math, telling everyone how great you are. 😉

      1. @Brian, Good Catch. But, hey, what’s an order of magnitude between friends? I was trying to figure out how Denmark managed such low per-capita emissions when only getting a minor fraction of their power from Wind, and the rest from hydrocarbons, whilst France was getting such high per-capita emissions when 80% was from nuclear, but I thought there was something I was missing.

        1. @EL – the fact is that France still has a much lower carbon production per capita. Denmark’s per capita carbon production rate probably isn’t going anywhere fast, either, as they’ve reached the saturation point with windmills, and their grid probably can’t take anymore intermittent power.
          Twice the energy independence of the US? This is due to their rich supplies of oil and gas.
          You mention Denmark’s “small coal imports” – I note that you omit a per capita coal consumption figure, though, which you provide for oil and gas. This is probably because the oil and gas figures are comparable between the two nations, but the coal figures reveal a wide discrepancy between Denmark and France.
          France Coal consumption: 21,000,000 tons / 62,600,000 persons = .34 tons per capita
          Denmark Coal consumption: 7,000,000 tons / 5,500,000 persons = 1.27 tons per capita
          So Denmark imports 1/3 the coal of France, yet has 1/11th the population – and burns 4 times more coal per capita than the French do!
          Lessons learned from this: intermittent/unreliable renewables and energy efficiency is far less effective at reducing total CO2 emissions per capita than nuclear power is.

        2. @EL – I like people who are persistent and aggressively defend their work, but not if they are flat out wrong. I do not understand how you can say “Sorry Brian … but we’re both wrong…” when Brian quite correctly pointed out that the MOST important number in your post was off by a factor of TEN? It was not just a typo, you should have gotten to the end and recognized that the final number just did not make any sense at all. For a nuke, the next step after checking the math would have been to check the input numbers.
          Your comment about economic achievements for small countries is also completely belied by statistical catalogs. Kuwait, Australia, and Lithuania (to pick just a few) are also countries with quite small populations that share the common trait of having achieved significant periods of “energy independence”. For Kuwait and Australia, that came from having a small population with a lot of natural resources. For Lithuania, it came from having two large nuclear units at Ignalina that produced about 50-100% more electricity than the entire country consumed, so they were massive power exporters. Unfortunately, that situation has now reversed since the EU forces them to shutter both units, even before the replacement power stations could be built.

  2. This is a little off-topic, but I fairly regularly do Google News searches on “Nuclear Power” “Nuclear Energy”, etc.
    Well, I ran across another article, this one being published by UPI (which, I believe, most people would normally) which, I *think* trots out the NC Warn historic crossover study again, to proclaim as absolute truth that nuclear is more expensive than solar.
    I commented on that article, trying to correct some of the flaws inat article. UPI touts itself as “100 years of Journalistic Excellence”, but if that article is representative of their reporting, I don’t see how the adjective “Excellence” applies at all to their reporting.
    They didn’t sufficiently identify the study they were citing, they only referenced a single study instead of trying to get a consensus of views from different sources, or even at least acknowledge that this study is in a minority of one in proclaiming solar to be cheaper than nuclear.
    There are additional problems, like the claim by the guy trying to sell the solar panels that a nuclear accident is going to be a “global affair” – which, as I’ve learned in the last year, is simply not true for any nuclear designs currently in use – yes, it was true of Chernobyl, but not any currently operating or proposed reactors.
    I tried to respond to that article in the comments. I suggest you guys may want to add some additional voices of dissent to that article, to maybe, hopefully, have a chance that anyone reading that ‘hit piece’ might have a chance of learning the truth.

    1. Correction: “. . .(which, I believe, most people would normally). . .” should read,
      . . . (which I believe, most people would normally regard as a credible news source). . .

    2. Apparently UPI is *determined* to be biased and not have their articles corrected. I had posted a comment on their blog trying to correct the record with regards to the NC Warn study, and provided a link to an article here on the atomic insights blog which analyzed the NC Warn study, and UPI deleted my post! I think their new corporate motto should be, “Over 100 Years of Journalistic Incompetence”.

      1. @Jeff – I have tried to post a comment on the UPI story as well. When it did not show up, I posted a more complete article about their journalistic performance on Atomic Insights. Thank you for the tip and the link. I hope you enjoy the article I wrote.

        1. @Rod,
          Hi there. I saw your new blog post about the UPI story. Thanks for taking an interest and following up. I think it’s very important to at least *try* to counter lies and FUD. It’s discouraging though, because you and I don’t have the ‘pulpit’ that UPI does. 🙁

  3. Evan Mills wishes to consider the Swedish case in a blog post today: “Evolving energy systems: the Swedish story.” Some nuclear, some renewables, lots of conservation and efficiency, low imports (oil, gas, and coal), and the lowest carbon emissions of the group (France, Denmark, and Sweden). He tells a very good story (relevant to this thread), and is worth a look.
    He’s not particularly optimistic about the future (despite his claims to the contrary at the end of the article): “I will admit to growing more than a little disillusioned by the reality versus the vision of energy policy

    1. The ‘renewables’ in question for Sweden are hydroelectric. Anti-nuke ‘renewables’ proponents just love conflating hydro with solar and wind in the hope that people won’t notice what they’re doing.

        1. Hmm. This seems to be a fairly recent development. Pity about that whole ‘nuclear phaseout’ stage the Swedes went through. If they hadn’t succumbed to that, they might have a few more nuclear plants running now, and they wouldn’t need to get into burning their forests and calling it green.

          1. @Finrod – even without new construction, the Swedes would have at least two more 600 MWe nukes running today if it had not been for the “no choice” referendum they were offered. (All three choices on the ballot resulted in early shutdowns of the operating facilities and no additional nuclear plants.)
            The Barseback units would still be operating today if the owners had not been told that they would have to be shut down soon. The plants needed a bit of maintenance; but with a short remaining life the owners decided to shut down rather than investing in the repairs.
            Fortunately, I think that both units are in Safestor, awaiting the construction of a storage facility. Maybe the owners can restore them to operation like the German owners of two shut down nukes are doing.
            From Wikipedia:

        2. @EL – are you telling me that burning carbohydrates called “wood” does not release any CO2 into the atmosphere? The politically accepted computation of the emissions is not based on reality, but on the fact that a large number of politically influential biomass producers have convinced politicians to slant the numbers.
          If you burn anything, you release CO2, H2O and a bunch of other less benign substances. It would be better to use that material in building, paper for library books, furniture, or simply to bury it in an anaerobic environment. Then you would actually be doing something beneficial.

          1. @Rod Adams. The argument is that wood biomass is carbon neutral. What a growing plant removes from the environment, it returns when it is burned as a power source. The carbon cycle for coal and other fossil fuels is mainly additive to the climate. Burying wood in an anaerobic environment has other concerns

            1. It will be CO2 neutral so long as only enough is taken from the forest that the forest itself can regenerate, but energy demand is always growing. What in the world are they thinking? They need to tie energy production to a form not reliant on the weather or the biosphere.

              1. Sweden also has a lot of district heating which lends itself well to burning agricultural and other waste and it is this, more than the fuel selection per se, that yields better efficiencies.

Comments are closed.

Recent Comments from our Readers

  1. Avatar
  2. Avatar
  3. Avatar
  4. Avatar
  5. Avatar

Similar Posts