The Chairman of the US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Joe Manchin, is urging President Joe Biden to maintain the current operational levels of America’s nuclear power capacity.
In a letter made public earlier in the week the overseers of America’s civilian nuclear supply system linked the need to maintain the number of US nuclear power plants (NPP) to the ability of the Federal government to achieve pre-stated goals in reducing CO2 emissions and overall nationwide grid operations.
Since the early 1990s the number of US NPPs has dropped to 94 from a high of 104, and another 5.1 GW of capacity will be disconnected from the nationwide grid before the end of 2021.
Some of this will be replaced by increased renewable capacity, particularly in the PV and wind sectors, but, according to Mr. Manchin “(W)ithout any change in policy half of the current nuclear fleet will retire by 2030.
“In 2019, nuclear prevented 476 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from being emitted and represented 55% of total emission-free electricity in the United States. Any further closures would be detrimental to meeting any climate goals.”
Manchin went on to say to President Biden “I appreciate your leadership in supporting nuclear power plants’ continued operation and the role nuclear plays in combatting climate change. I urge you to take action to preserve our existing nuclear fleet and prevent further closures. I believe the federal government must use all the tools it has to protect this vital resource, to the maximum extent consistent with the health and safety of the public.
(However) “Without new construction or the preservation of the existing nuclear fleet in the US, achieving a sustainable energy system will be more challenging and expensive … Every year in the US, nuclear-generated electricity prevents more than 506 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering our atmosphere. If we are serious about meeting our climate goals without sacrificing reliability, we must protect our existing fleet. Why then is the US fleet decreasing and why are we taking them offline?”
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