After years of decline, nuclear power is now being supported. However, there are still many obstacles.

Maria Korsnick, a speaker at the Nuclear Energy Assembly in Washington, D.

NewsEditor
NewsEditor
02 July 2022 Saturday 06:22
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After years of decline, nuclear power is now being supported. However, there are still many obstacles.

Maria Korsnick, a speaker at the Nuclear Energy Assembly in Washington, D.C., asked hundreds of people to imagine a world where nuclear energy is triumphant.

Korsnick, who is president and CEO at the Nuclear Energy Institute (a trade association), stated that hundreds of reactors aEUR from the models we have today to advanced reactors large and small aEUR", are needed for a clean energy future.

This kind of future would have been difficult to imagine just a few years ago.

In the last decade, many nuclear power plants in the country have been forced to shut down before natural gas power became more affordable.

A new influx of private and government investment is changing the trajectory and promoting the development of nuclear technology.

However, many of the old obstacles to nuclear power expansion remain.

The worsening of climate change is one reason for the renewed appreciation for nuclear power. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (USEIA), nuclear contributes almost one-fifth of all electricity produced in the U.S. and is the largest single source of power that doesn't directly cause carbon emissions. Wind power, however, briefly eclipsed it earlier this year.

To prevent more plant closures, the federal government started subsidizing older nuclear power plants. This was done by opening a $6 billion fund, which was authorized in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act 2021. The law also provided $2.477 billion to support research and development for advanced nuclear reactor technology.

Kathryn Huff, Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy, stated that President Biden is committed to ensuring the United States is powered by clean energy. She stated that nuclear energy was essential for this.

All 50 states have adopted more nuclear-friendly positions.

According to an Associated Press survey, more than half of all states include nuclear power in their plans for reducing carbon emissions from electricity generation.

New York was one of those that had funded older plants to remain open. California's grid stability problems led to Gov. Gavin Newsom began exploring possible options to keep Diablo Canyon's nuclear plant open. It is currently scheduled to close by 2025.

Recently, even West Virginia, a major producer of fossil fuels, lifted its ban on nuclear power. Brandon Steele, a Republican delegate, represents a district located in the southern, coal-producing region of West Virginia. He said that diversifying energy production is good both for business and security.

He stated that West Virginia could be a major producer and would serve the national energy needs and contribute to our national security.

This argument is a rebuke to the climate case against nuclear power. Steele told NPR that he believed that increasing the state's use of nuclear and renewable energy would increase coal demand, thereby increasing overall energy demand.

"Nuclear is a great complement to our coal-fired energy. He said that it is not a replacement for coal-fired power, but a complement.

West Virginia has no nuclear reactors at the moment. Steele stated that West Virginia has zero nuclear reactors. However, the goal is to be able to participate in the development of advanced nuclear technology.

Even with this momentum, nuclear energy's boosters acknowledge that there are some things that need to be changed if it is to continue growing.

John Hopkins, president of NuScale Energy/NuScale Corporation, a publicly traded company that develops advanced nuclear technology, stated that the industry is "prone to overpromise but underdeliver" when it comes to developing new nuclear technology. Although his company was the first to get federal approval for a small modular nuclear reactor design, the first plant will not be operational until 2029.

Hopkins stated that he wanted to put one module into the ground to prove it's commercially viable. Hopkins spoke to attendees at the Nuclear Energy Assembly panel in June.

This means that you can cut costs. According to the 2021 World Nuclear Industry Status Report, nuclear power has become more expensive over time.

Compared to solar and wind power, they are cheaper and keep coming down in price. This, combined with long-term storage of energy, could render nuclear power less economically viable over the long-term, stated Elgie Holstein (senior director for strategic planning at the Environmental Defense Fund).

He stated, "This is tough competition to these aging nuclear power stations."

Edwin Lyman is the director of nuclear safety at the Union of Concerned Scientists. He said that nuclear's unique liabilities and risks must also be considered when evaluating its utility. As examples of what could go wrong, Lyman cites the Fukushima nuclear plant meltdown in Japan in 2011 and Russia's attack on Europe's largest nuclear power station in Zaporizhzhia in Ukraine earlier in the year. Even though Finland has established the first permanent repository for nuclear waste, there is still no long-term disposal model.

Energy experts disagree on the role of nuclear power in transitioning off carbon. Many models of lowering greenhouse gas emissions depend on maintaining the current level of nuclear power, or growing it. Alternative models, such as the Stanford University study, offer a way to zero carbon emissions with no nuclear power.

Jason Bordoff, Columbia University's director of the Center for Global Energy Policy, stated that there is reason to be skeptical about any new technology in energy, "whether it is green hydrogen, long-duration stock or advanced nuclear."

He said that time is running out to avoid the worst effects of climate changes, but that it was good to have options.

Bordoff stated that "We are so far from meeting our climate goals, that we're going need all the tools in this toolbox."

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