There is a widespread view that nuclear energy is necessary for decarbonizing the electricity sector in the United States. It is expressed not only by the nuclear industry, but also by scholars and policy-makers like former Energy Secretary Steven Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist who recently said that the choices we have “…when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine” are “fossil fuel or nuclear.” I disagree. Wind and solar are much cheaper than new nuclear plants even when storage is added. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimated the cost of unsubsidized utility-scale solar plus battery storage in 2021 was $77 per megawatt-hour — about half the cost of new nuclear as estimated by the Wall Street firm Lazard. (An average New York State household uses a megawatt-hour in about seven weeks.)
The much-heralded Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), while offering a vital lifeline to the renewable energy industry, also contains massive subsidies to keep dangerously aging atomic power plants operating for years to come. Meanwhile, six decrepit atomic reactors are now caught in a terrifying military crossfire in southeastern Ukraine, showing exactly why it is so important to shut down nuclear plants instead of subsidizing them. The Ukrainian reactors, located at Zaporizhzhia, the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, are now being used as a shield for Russian artillery arrays. A single errant shell could send far more atomic radiation pouring over Europe than did Chernobyl, with an unimaginable toll of downwind death and destruction from which the continent might never recover.
Politicians and investor-owned utilities are now proposing small nuclear reactors in Montana to replace the old coal-fired power plants at Colstrip. For the last 44 years a successful Citizens’ Initiative banned nuclear power in Montana unless approved by the voters. But Republican majorities in the 2021 Montana legislature repealed the initiative and Republican Governor Gianforte signed the bill into law. There are similar proposals in Wyoming and Idaho. But the rush to nukes suffered a major setback this month when the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission denied the application to build and operate the nation’s first small modular nuclear 720 megawatt reactor at the Idaho National Laboratory.
More than 2 million visitors flock each year to California’s San Onofre state beach, a dreamy slice of coastline just north of San Diego. The beach is popular with surfers, lies across one of the largest Marine Corps bases in the Unites States and has a 10,000-year-old sacred Native American site nearby. It even landed a shout-out in the Beach Boys’ 1963 classic Surfin’ USA. But for all the good vibes and stellar sunsets, beneath the surface hides a potential threat: 3.6m lb of nuclear waste from a group of nuclear reactors shut down nearly a decade ago. Decades of political gridlock have left it indefinitely stranded, susceptible to threats including corrosion, earthquakes and sea level rise. The San Onofre reactors are among dozens across the United States phasing out, but experts say they best represent the uncertain future of nuclear energy.
The Biden administration is being urged Wednesday not to court "disaster" after new reporting revealed the White House is pushing for taxpayer subsidies to keep nuclear power plants afloat in its sweeping infrastructure plan. According to Bloomberg and Reuters, the taxpayer prop-up would come in the form of "production tax credits," which already apply to renewables like wind and solar. The PTC effort "would likely be swept into" Biden's American Jobs Plan, Reuters reported, stating that the White House "has signaled privately to lawmakers and stakeholders in recent weeks" its support for the action. The American Jobs Plan already points broadly to support for nuclear power, stating the plan will invest in "advanced nuclear." Writing last month at The American Prospect, Gabrielle Gurley outlined the administration's efforts at a clean energy standard...
Over the last few years, there has been a growing interest in a Green New Deal and there are many versions proposed in different countries. At the same time, there has also been criticism of these proposals on many counts, including the fact that they typically don’t include nuclear energy. This criticism misses a basic point: a Green New Deal is, by its very definition, much more than an emissions reduction plan. As we argue below, the other attributes that characterize Green New Deals, rule out nuclear energy as an option. Like the original New Deal of U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s, all Green New Deal proposals emphasize the creation of new jobs.
As the nuke power industry slumps toward oblivion, two huge reactors are shutting in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. The shutdowns are a body blow to atomic energy. The soaring costs of the decayed US reactor fleet have forced them to beg gerrymandered state legislatures for huge bailouts. Just two US reactors are still being built. Stuffed with $12 billion in interest-free federal loans, Georgia’s Vogtle is nearing a staggering $30 billion in cost. Years behind schedule, the lowest possible costs of whatever electricity the two reactors there might produce already far exceed wind and solar.
“Secretary Perry likes to use flash and glitz to cover over imperfections in form. Like the wise judges on Dancing with the Stars, FERC saw through the act. “This was an easy decision to make for FERC. Secretary Perry’s proposal was nothing more than a massive bailout for the coal and nuclear industries. It’s no surprise it was resoundingly rejected by even the industry-friendly commission, just as it’s no surprise that Secretary Perry continues to demonstrate he has no idea what he’s doing overseeing our nation’s energy infrastructure. “We’ll know FERC is really intent on setting a course for a brighter future when they actually start taking our climate crisis seriously.
By Eric Wesoff for GTM - Solar farms planted on an abandoned nuclear plant site or powering a coal museum or atop a strip mine offer stark images of the ascendance of renewables. But forget metaphorical images -- utility-scale renewable electricity generation in March and April actually surpassed nuclear for the first time since July 1984. (Ronald Reagan was president, and "When Doves Cry" was the No. 1 hit on the radio.) Recent months have seen record generation from wind and solar, as well as increases in hydroelectric power because of 2017's wet winter (note that these numbers, from the Energy Information Administration, do not include distributed solar). Most of the time, conventional hydroelectric generation is still the primary source of renewable electricity. But one of the takeaways from this data set is the emergence of wind in the last decade as a material slice of the energy mix. The U.S. wind industry installed more than 8 gigawatts in 2015 and did it again in 2016. The country now has over 84 gigawatts of installed wind capacity. Another takeaway is the relatively diminutive contribution from solar, which falls between geothermal and biomass in its annual contribution. The U.S. installed 14.5 gigawatts of solar last year, up 95 percent over 2015.
By Paul Brown for Climate News Network - The knock-on effects of the financial disasters the two companies face will be felt across the nuclear world, but nowhere more than in the UK, which was hoping Westinghouse was about to start building three of its largest nuclear reactors, the AP 1000, at Moorside in Cumbria, northwest England. The UK’s Conservative government will be particularly embarrassed because, in late February, it won a critical parliamentary by-election in the seat that would be home to the Moorside plant, on the guarantee that the three reactors would be built − a pledge that now seems impossible to keep. Martin Forwood, campaign co-ordinator for Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment, says: “I think the day of the large-scale nuclear power station is over. There is no one left to invest anymore because renewables are just cheaper, and these prices are still going down while nuclear is always up.” Toshiba and Westinghouse are in deep trouble because the reactors they are currently building − the same design as the ones planned for Cumbria − are years late and billions of dollars over budget. Even if the companies can be re-financed, it seems extremely unlikely they would risk taking on new reactor projects.
By Staff of Green Peace - Toshiba/Westinghouse is responsible for building more nuclear reactors worldwide than any other entity. With the financial meltdown of Westinghouse, Toshiba also recently announced its plans to withdraw from foreign construction projects - a move that has far-reaching implications outside Japan and the US, such as the construction of three reactors in the UK at Moorside. “If we look at how nuclear stacks up against renewables, it’s clearly in freefall. An estimated 147 gigawatts of renewable power was added in 2015, compared to just 11 gigawatts for nuclear power in the same year,” said Ai Kashiwagi, Energy Campaigner at Greenpeace Japan (1).
By Jon Campbell for Democrat and Chronicle - ALBANY - A state-approved bailout of three upstate nuclear power plants was the focus of a legislative hearing Monday, but New York's top energy officials declined to attend. The state Assembly held a hearing Monday on the state's "zero-emissions credit" plan, which kicks in on April 1 and will require ratepayers across the state to pay several billion dollars over 12 years to keep open the three aging plants, including the R.E. Ginna Nuclear Power Plant near Rochester. The hearing, however, was absent the key decision-makers in Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration who were behind the initiative.
By Staff for Beyond Nuclear. Beyond Nuclear called on the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to make public the full list of U.S nuclear power plants that are known to be operating with potentially defective parts imported from France. The flawed components could seriously compromise safety at the nuclear sites, the group warns. Affected reactors should be immediately shut down. The NRC has refused to reveal the names of all affected U.S. nuclear power plants. So far only one nuclear plant — Connecticut’s Millstone — has been named in a Reuters news article. However, a Greenpeace France report suggests there are at least 19 reactors at 11 sites in the U.S. operating with potentially defective parts that, if not replaced, could lead to a meltdown. Beyond Nuclear is filing an emergency enforcement 2.206 petition and a Freedom of Information Act Request to demand that the NRC release the full list of reactors with flawed parts; inform the affected reactor communities of the risks; and require the shutdown of reactors with potentially defective reactor components.
By Phil McKenna for Inside Climate News - Diablo Canyon, California's last remaining nuclear facility, will be retired within a decade if state regulators agree to a proposal by Pacific Gas and Electric Corporation and several environmental and labor organizations to replace its power production with clean energy. The San Francisco-based utility said on Tuesday that it will ask state regulators to let operating licenses for two nuclear reactors at its Diablo Canyon power plant expire in 2024 and 2025. The utility said it would make up for the loss of power with a mix of energy efficiency, renewables and energy storage that would cost less than nuclear power.
By Kate Colwell for Friends of the Earth - BERKELEY, CALIF. - An historic agreement has been reached between Pacific Gas and Electric, Friends of the Earth, and other environmental and labor organizations to replace the Diablo Canyon nuclear reactors with greenhouse-gas-free renewable energy, efficiency and energy storage resources. Friends of the Earth says the agreement provides a clear blueprint for fighting climate change by replacing nuclear and fossil fuel energy with safe, clean, cost-competitive renewable energy.