There are a few problems with "Mathematical conundrum" (Aug. 17), Mark Henry's Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant vs. solar power critique.
He proceeds from the premise that when Diablo Canyon shuts down, all power now generated by the plant must be replaced only by solar panels. The renewable energy vision laid out by the state of California includes solar—utility-scale and rooftop—wind, water, biomass, hydro, and geothermal, along with energy efficiency and conservation.
He admits that the figures he uses on the cost of solar are out of date, drawn from a 2012 study. The cost of solar has declined about 60 percent in the last five years.
From his doubly false premise, he concludes, in a hail of exclamation points, that replacing Diablo's power with nothing but solar panels, if this were 2012, would cost $55 billion.
The ultimate reality check on his calculations should be the mounting evidence that the seismic potential of earthquake faults around the Diablo Canyon plant exceeds its ability to withstand a major quake, and the fact that cleanup costs for the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant disaster are now estimated at $180 billion—no exclamation points required—an expenditure that will produce not a single watt of energy.
Fukushima Prefecture has committed to 100 percent renewable energy by 2040, via a mix of the energy sources cited above. So should we.
Santa Lucia Chapter of the Sierra Club director
San Luis Obispo