Source: Energy Northwest, Febraury 15
On Feb. 15, a coalition of clean energy and environmental groups published a white paper entitled, “Clean Energy Solutions Must Include Nuclear.” The paper contends the U.S. cannot meet its goals to constrain carbon emissions and address climate change without preserving the current nuclear fleet and supporting the development of next generation reactors. The report is yet another example of the growing recognition of nuclear energy as a key element of the climate solution among clean energy and environmental advocates. Simply put, nuclear power solves both the environmental and cost dilemma by reliably filling the long gaps left by renewable generation with reliable, low-cost, clean energy.
Below is a summary of the white paper released by the coalition, which includes ClearPath, the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, the American Council for Capital Formation, the Bipartisan Policy Center and the CRES Forum.
Summary: U.S. and global climate and clean power goals won’t be achievable without existing and next-generation nuclear generation. The magnitude of the climate challenge is hard to overstate, and the scale of global environmental challenges demands that we continue developing and improving on a range of carbon-free and low-carbon options, not just one or two technologies.
Achieving deep carbon reductions requires a power system with carbon-free and low-carbon emitting generators that are available on demand, such as nuclear and carbon capture, to complement variable resources like wind and solar. Given the energy technologies available today, taking nuclear out of the mix undermines our ability to achieve climate goals. Since no energy source is perfect and all involve trade-offs, it’s critical to focus on outcomes – such as carbon emission reductions – without favoring or discriminating against particular technologies.
Once optimal emission levels are achieved, the least-cost percentage of wind and solar in a Texas-like power system will be a maximum of about 20 percent generation without energy storage, and up to about 35 percent if significant energy storage is available. That’s because we still need full-time natural gas or nuclear plants to make electricity when the wind isn’t blowing and sun isn’t shining. After a 20-35 percent build-out of wind and solar, cost-effectiveness begins to decrease as fulltime resources are forced to operate at a fraction of their potential to accommodate increased renewable generation.
Nuclear energy accounts for 56 percent of the carbon-free electricity generated in the U.S., and approximately 30 percent worldwide, and without nuclear, we simply cannot achieve meaningful carbon emission reductions to meet the growing climate challenge.