Sorry, We're Closed...
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- May 10, 2019 9:19 pm GMT
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50 US coal power plants have closed in the last 2 years and the Sierra Club counted another 51 announcements of coal plant closures in the works. In total, 289 have closed since 2010, comprising 40 percent of the US's coal power capacity, while an additional 241 plants remain open. "We're seeing a rush to the exit door from the coal industry and utilities, because the economics don't work out," the Sierra Club's Jonathan Levenshus told AFP. Coal has become more expensive to extract, transport and utilize than natural gas.
Should we expect nuclear power plants to follow the same path, closing in rapid succession? Since 2013, natural gas and renewables have replaced most of the generating capacity of the six nuclear plants that have closed in the US. Iowa’s only nuclear plant is coming to its end. Despite its reputation as a well-run and reliable plant, NextEra Energy Duane Arnold Energy Center joins a growing list of single-unit nuclear plants across the nation embarking on the long decommissioning process. California will close Diablo Canyon by 2045 and nuclear plants in New York, New Jersey and Illinois will rely on bailouts to avoid closures. Economics are not the only challenge coal and nuclear face. Climate policies mandating emissions reductions are also having an impact on the future of nuclear power. Public opinion is another challenge for both coal and nuclear power. Despite the fact that accidents are rare, the general public has long felt a significant dread about nuclear power plants. Research suggests that engineering efforts to make the technology safer and communicating with the public will not persuade people to choose nuclear power. The team at Carnegie Mellon University and University of California San Diego's School of Global Policy and Strategy hope to quantify just how much nuclear power the American public might be willing to accept when and if the fear associated with it is reduced or eliminated.
Will changing public opinion and creating subsidies be enough to save nuclear plants and projects in different phases of construction? How are utilities adjusting to the rapid changes in coal and nuclear energy?