A increasing number of political leaders are rethinking nuclear power in light of the challenge of attaining clean energy objectives and the rising need for electricity.
There are even some Democrats who have come around to the notion of nuclear power. The only nuclear power plant in California is set to shut down in 2025. Bipartisan support for nuclear power has resulted in billions of dollars in additional financing for both current and new projects.
Nuclear industry opponents argue that a veneer of clean energy has not changed the concerns about nuclear technology, including ageing facilities in need of potentially costly improvements, the challenge of nuclear waste disposal, and steep cost overruns for new projects that are years late—if they ever reach completion.
Physicist Edwin Lyman, head of nuclear power safety for the Union of Concerned Scientists, stated, “The industry realises it doesn’t have a good tale to tell. “It still has the same problems.”
Despite a Supreme Court decision last week that limited federal regulatory authority, President Biden said efforts to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector by 2035 will continue. That ambition has been hampered by supply chain concerns that have hampered wind and solar power growth.
Biden’s government has set up a $6 billion fund to assist ailing nuclear plant owners keep their reactors operating and make them more economically competitive with cheaper alternatives like solar and wind electricity. However, the application date may be extended and the qualifying conditions changed to better serve the needs of those who are interested in applying.
Nuclear energy assistant secretary Kathryn Huff told the American Nuclear Society at a recent conference that the Biden administration has made it plain that the objective of net zero nuclear power generation is her department’s priority. It’s possible that nuclear power might play a significant role in achieving these lofty ambitions.
Additionally, the government is allocating $2.5 billion for two projects in Washington State and Wyoming to showcase new nuclear technology.
Efforts to preserve and develop nuclear energy were made possible by a separate bipartisan bill proposed last year. According to the Tax Foundation, a non-profit tax policy group, the measure would give financial aid like tax credits and has the support of Senators Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican from West Virginia, and Cory Booker, a Democrat from New Jersey.
Coal-fired power stations, which have been shutting down as the United States shifts away from fossil fuels, might become nuclear reactor sites, according to Ms. Capito. Her native state, which has long depended on coal as a source of energy, would gain from this.
In the end, you need a power source that isn’t weather-dependent, like nuclear, to keep the grid stable, according to John Kotek, former director of the Obama administration’s Office of Nuclear Energy and current president of policy at the Nuclear Energy Institute, a trade group.
Nuclear power has become increasingly competitive across the globe due to growing prices of other sources of energy, notably in the United States, which has the world’s biggest fleet of nuclear facilities. In all, they generate around 20% of the nation’s electricity and 50% of the nation’s clean power.
There are 92 reactors in operation in the United States, including the Palisades Nuclear Generating Station in Michigan, which was shut down little over a month ago – roughly 55 miles southwest of Grand Rapids.
Because of a power-purchase agreement that expired, Entergy opted to shut down the facility. With the help of the government, Entergy was unable to locate a buyer for the plant, and the decommissioning process had progressed so far that it was impossible to put it back online.
Gov. Gavin Newsom has suggested prolonging the life of Diablo Canyon, the next facility to be decommissioned. Nearly 10% of California’s power is generated from this facility, located on the central coast of the state.
Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California, is among those who advocate extending the plant’s closure. “Diablo must stay functioning, at least for the time being,” she claimed in an editorial published in The Sacramento Bee under the title, “Why I changed my mind,” in order to satisfy clean energy objectives and handle electricity needs resulting from climate change.
Keeping Diablo Canyon open for 10 years may lower California’s power industry’s carbon emissions by more than 10% from 2017 levels and lessen its dependence on natural gas, according to a research last year by Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Energy expenses might be saved by a total of $2.6 billion, as well as the risk of brownouts.