New nuclear plants are “ridiculously expensive” and “uncompetitive” compared to solar power, longtime nuclear industry advocate Nobuo Tanaka explained recently. Tanaka is also the former head of the International Energy Agency. At the same time, existing U.S. nuclear power plants are “bleeding cash,” as Bloomberg has repeatedly documented. Saving them would require a subsidy of at least $5 billion a year, according to a July 19 analysis by the Brattle Group. But every time conservatives in Congress have had the chance to vote for the only sustainable way of saving nuclear power — by putting a price on carbon pollution that could make it more competitive — they overwhelmingly oppose it. Conservatives in the Senate killed the cap-and-trade climate bill that passed the U.S. House back in 2009 — a bill that would have dramatically improved the economics of nuclear relative to fossil fuel plants. A rising price on carbon dioxide emissions would instantly help the economics of emissions-free nuclear power compared to one of its biggest competitors: natural gas. Studies have shown that the nuclear fleet could be preserved with a CO2 price averaging just $20/ton. The bottom line is that economics has killed nuclear power. So those who support nuclear power as a climate solution need to understand that nuclear’s only long-term hope is a price for carbon pollution that is significant and steadily rising — something that we don’t have because conservatives in Congress have steadfastly opposed it for decades.
Think Progress 30th July 2018 read more »
A portion of the vast Washington state site where the U.S. government created much of the plutonium for the nation’s nuclear arsenal will be scrubbed free of radiation and other pollution under a final plan reached by the U.S. Department of Energy and federal and state regulators. The plan announced Monday would spend $200 million to finish the cleanup of nearly 8 square miles (20 square kilometers) of the 586-square-mile (1,500-square-kilometer) Hanford Nuclear Reservation, where plutonium was made for nuclear weapons during World War II and the Cold War. The land involved in the plan contains three of Hanford’s nine plutonium reactors. The decision means the land will be returned “to productive reuse for the benefit of the health and livelihood of surrounding communities,” said Andrew Wheeler, acting administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Wheeler has been running the agency since the recent resignation of EPA administrator Scott Pruitt. The plan calls for removal, treatment, and disposal of contaminated soil and debris. Groundwater will be cleaned up to drinking water standards and waste sites cleaned up to “suitable for residential use” levels, according to the agreement. There are no plans to build any houses on the site, which has been closed to the public since World War II. The plan covers just a small portion of Hanford, which is the subject of a long and complicated cleanup that costs the U.S. government some $2 billion a year and is expected to last for many decades. Hanford is located near Richland, Washington.
Daily Mail 31st July 2018 read more »
Shareholders of SCANA agreed Tuesday to sell the South Carolina utility to Virginia-based Dominion Energy, which has agreed to swallow billions of dollars in debt from the company’s failed nuclear construction project and other operations. The deal gives Dominion – already one of the nation’s largest utility companies – more of a foothold in South Carolina. The Richmond company already operates a pair of solar farms in the state, as well as gas pipelines purchased from SCANA in years past. SCANA has about 1.6 million electric and natural gas residential and business accounts in the Carolinas. The combined company would operate in 18 states, providing energy to about 6.5 million regulated customer accounts.
Daily Mail 31st July 2018 read more »