Nuclear is key for grid resilience in an increasingly decarbonized world

May 11, 2023, 12:01PMNuclear NewsAmy Roma

Amy Roma

Flipping on a light switch and knowing that the power will come on is a luxury. While it sounds like a simple act, it is achieved through deliberate government policies that ensure our electricity comes from a mix of sources, some of which are continuously operational—such as nuclear and gas—and some of which only operate at certain times—such as wind and solar. If any one source is unavailable or overly expensive, another source needs to deliver on demand. Diversity of energy sources ensures the grid is able to adapt and recover from changing conditions so that we can always flip the lights on.

While grid resilience—the grid’s ability to anticipate, absorb, and recover from major disruptions and rapidly restore electric service in their wake—is a matter of paramount importance, the source diversity required to achieve this is at risk. For power grids relying on renewables, supply and demand hang in a balance based on time of day and weather.

What is the public perception of the U.S. electricity grid?

May 9, 2023, 3:00PMNuclear NewsMeredith Angwin

Meredith Angwin

When my book Shorting the Grid was published in 2020, many described it as “alarmist.” Most people in the United States took grid reliability for granted. Sure, there were always power outages during storms, but weird things like “rolling blackouts” only happened in California.

Public perception is changing, however. Part of this change is due to the major February 2021 blackout in Texas, as well as the grid emergencies during December 2022. People became aware that their own grid could have problems, and not just the usual power-line-fails-in-a-snowstorm type of problems. For example, last December, the service areas for Duke Energy and the Tennessee Valley Authority in the southeastern U.S. experienced rolling blackouts. Grid operators had to take emergency measures. The Midwest, Texas, and New England experienced near misses with grid trouble. In other words, most of the country was at risk of rolling blackouts due to one relatively short winter storm.

The Natrium technology: Providing reliable, carbon-free energy to complement wind and solar

April 6, 2021, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe
An artist’s rendering of Natrium. Image: TerraPower

Around the world, national and local policymakers and business leaders are making bold and ambitious commitments to clean energy goals. In the United States, one in three Americans now lives in a city or state that has committed to or has achieved 100 percent clean electricity, according to the Luskin Center for Innovation at the University of California–Los Angeles.