Looming climate breakdown is opening fresh divisions among environmentalists over nuclear energy, with a major advocacy group calling for struggling nuclear plants to be propped up to avoid losing their low-carbon power. Nuclear is the single largest source of low-carbon electricity in the US. But a third of nuclear plants are unprofitable or scheduled to close, risking a rise in greenhouse gas emissions if they are replaced by coal or natural gas, a major Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) report has found. US emissions could increase by as much as 6% if struggling plants are shuttered early, the report warns. This scenario has put pressure on m any environmental groups to re-evaluate their intrinsic opposition to nuclear energy as a dangerous blight that must be eradicated. “Nuclear reactors are a bad bet for a climate strategy,” said Dr Gregory Jaczko, who was chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission during the Obama administration. “The Union of Concerned Scientist models don’t reflect the reality of the United States electricity market. Renewables are getting cheaper faster than expected and are in some cases the least expensive source of electricity.” Jaczko said new nuclear is a “financial boondoggle”, with investments better placed in solar or wind. “Employing nuclear for climate change is like Dorothy seeking the Wizard of Oz to get home,” he added. “It’s an expensive enticing mirage.” Clemmer said he agreed that new nuclear plants are enormously expensive but said there was a case for the US government to invest around $814m a year to keep existing unprofitable plants online, given the cleaner energy they provide. “Environmental groups may come round to this, but I’m just not sure,” he said.
Guardian 14th Nov 2018 read more »