As the U.S. nuclear industry works to increase its contribution to the civilian power sector, recent issues with Toshiba and Westinghouse have reignited the debate regarding the future of nuclear power in the U.S. On one side, opponents leverage these issues to argue that nuclear power has no future due to economics and they conclude that the U.S. should abandon nuclear and go all-in on renewable energy. This position is strongly supported by anti-nuclear activists promoting a chimerical renewable-energy-only economy. This has already had a chilling effect as Georgia Power Company recently suspended feasibility studies for a potential expansion of nuclear. On the opposite side, some supporters contend these issues are a consequence of the U.S. having lost traction the past 30 years in nuclear development. They conclude that policymakers should not take a laissez-faire approach that allows civilian nuclear to fall victim to anti-nuclear activism or poorly structured U.S. electricity markets that cannot valuate zero-carbon baseload power. Amazing as it may seem, the United States, leader of the liberal world order it established largely on secure energy resources, is debating whether to retain nuclear power in its energy portfolio and, by extension, its institutional DNA. This demands caution as a U.S. exit from nuclear, whether intentional or by market attrition, would threaten U.S. national security in at least three ways. First, it would relegate nuclear science and engineering to military purposes only and widen the knowledge gap between the U.S. and the world’s economic, industrial and military powers. Second, it would eliminate the only zero-carbon resource for baseload power and create a complete dependency on intermittent renewables for zero-carbon energy. Third, it would be an abdication of leadership in the global nuclear community where the U.S. provides critical training in nuclear security, trade and standards.
Forbes 24th April 2017 read more »