…America! We Have a Problem – The Green Nightmare – Part 1 the Nuclear Problem..
The President of the United States and radical environmentalists have said the United States must be carbon neutral, i.e., net zero emissions, by 2050.
The essence of their plan is summarized here:
- Close all coal-fired power plants.
- Build wind and solar plants with required storage.
- Eliminate the use of natural gas for home heating and water heating.
- Eliminate natural gas for power generation.
- Mandate that all new light vehicles be battery powered.
- Promote zero emissions for large vehicles.
- Use negative carbon strategies.
The generation of electricity in 2020 is as shown in this graphic.
How much electricity is needed to meet these goals?
The 2021, Electrification Futures Study, by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), has said that accomplishing goals 3 and 5, will require doubling the power generation capacity of the United States.
Where will this additional electricity come from?
Problem # 1: Nuclear Power
As things stand today, there will only be 6 nuclear power plants in operation in 2050, and this assumes that the two units under construction in Georgia are completed. But, 4 of these would be closed by 2054.
As things stand today, it will be necessary to replace over 90% of all existing nuclear power plants by 2050, or renew the operating licenses of 86 nuclear power plants for 20 years, In other words:
- Replace 86 existing nuclear power plants with some other type of generation, OR
- Renew the operating licenses of 86 existing nuclear power plants by 2050.
Here are the facts.
In 2012 there were 104 nuclear power plants in operation.
Since then, 10 plants have been closed.
Another 8 plants are scheduled to close by 2025, leaving only 86 nuclear power plants in operation.
There is every reason to believe more nuclear power plants will be closed beyond the 8 that have already been announced.
The plants that have been closed are being closed for political reasons or because the rigged auctions being used by the RTO/ISOs are making nuclear plants uneconomic.
These closures are in spite of the fact that existing nuclear power plants generate electricity that is far less costly than that produced by wind or solar, and that they provide baseload power by producing electricity 24/7, 365 days per year.
The closure of eighteen fully operational, safe and reliable power plants is tragic, and a huge cost to all Americans.
Two steps are necessary for these 86 plants to receive their second renewal. The plant owner must request the renewal, and then the NRC must approve the renewal.
As of this writing, 4 plants have already received their second renewal, and the owners of 11 other plants have either submitted their application to the NRC or have said they intend to ask for the second renewal.
This leaves 71 plants where the owners have not yet indicated whether they will request the NRC to grant a second renewal.
The only conclusion that can be reached relative to nuclear power is: (1) nuclear will supply less electricity in 2050 than it does today, and (2) nuclear will not be able to provide any of the additional electricity required to meet the administration’s climate goals, which, in turn, according to the NREL study, require a doubling of electricity generation.
Where will the additional electricity come from?
Possibly from new nuclear power designs, such as small modular reactors.
However, these new designs have three hurdles to overcome. The first is to get NRC approval. The second is to be able to build these plants at a cost that is much lower than $6,000 per KW. And, of course, thirdly, to overcome the environmentalists who oppose nuclear power.
Will we be able to even replace the 18 reactors that have been, or are scheduled for closure? Or, for that matter, keep all the other 86 in operation?
Part 2 will examine the other problems associated with doubling our electricity supply.
Source for reactor information https://www.nrc.gov/reactors.html
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