Does nuclear power have a future in the US? Nuclear power, which for decades was the largest producer of electricity in Pennsylvania, has become too expensive following the discovery of a shale deposit running beneath most of the state. Abundant coal and natural gas meant that the sums did not add up. A similar story is being played out across the US. “Nuclear units are shutting, or at risk of shutting down across the country, and there are numerous obstacles to constructing new ones,” says Kristoff Nelson at the Boston-based investment firm IR+M. “Nuclear power is challenged to compete with natural gas plants due to cheap gas; meanwhile wind and solar power are gaining traction with consumers and utilities.” The industry is facing the perfect storm of ageing infrastructure and plunging electricity prices. “We are seeing prices of $20-30 per megawatt hour. Some nuclear power plants can deal with that but others, perhaps a third to a half, have operating costs of more than $30,” says Doug Vine of Climate and Energy Solutions, a non-profit group. According to the Nuclear Energy Institute, which represents the industry, its members are responsible for generating 19.3pc of all electricity in the US and 55.5pc of low-carbon electricity. There are still 96 nuclear reactors in the US. But eight more are scheduled to go by 2025 in addition to the nine which have disappeared over the past six years. Some states, including New York, New Jersey, Illinois and Ohio, have moved in to rescue nuclear plants, levelling the playing field with other zero carbon technology like wind and solar. But a $500m package for Three Mile Island was voted down, hitting the local community in a number of ways, according to Anna Dale, a long-standing member of the Londonderry Board of Supervisors which runs the district.
Telegraph 7th Oct 2019 read more »