Nuclear generation in U.S. tops coal power for first time in 2020

March 25, 2021, 3:08PMNuclear News
Source: EIA

A recent U.S. Energy Information Administration report, Short-Term Energy Outlook, notes that in 2020, nuclear power plants generated more electricity in the United States than coal-fired plants for the first time ever. Last year also marked the first time that coal generation was not the first or second largest U.S. electricity producer in more than 70 years.

Two factors led to the decrease in coal-fired generation, according to the EIA: one is the drop in the number of operating coal-fired plants, and the other is the lower utilization of those remaining coal-fired plants as the nation moves toward cleaner energy production. Coal, however, is not to be abandoned yet, according to the EIA.

The next couple of years will see changes in energy production, according to the EIA report. The EIA believes that "increases in natural gas prices will make coal more competitive in the electric power sector. This expected increase in coal's utilization more than offsets the upcoming retirement of 2.8 GW of coal capacity in 2021 and another 8.5 GW in 2022," based on information reported to the EIA by coal-fired plant owners and developers.

The Economist asks why are people afraid of nuclear

March 23, 2021, 3:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

The Economist published a video earlier this month trying to answer the question of why is nuclear so unpopular. The video is paired with a story that appeared on The Economist's website advocating for a well-regulated nuclear industry. The video starts off with very dramatic images of nuclear weapons and scenes from popular culture like Godzilla, The Simpsons, and the recent HBO miniseries Chernobyl. The video provides a quick history of nuclear science and technology starting with Eisenhower's Atoms for Peace speech in an attempt to prove to the viewer that "nuclear is one of the safest, most reliable, and sustainable forms of energy, and decarbonizing will be much more difficult without it."

Granholm speaks at Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue 21 conference

March 22, 2021, 9:29AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Granholm

U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm gave her first international address as part of the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue 2021 conference, held on March 16 and 17. Granholm started her speech by stating that “America is back,” putting climate change policies front and center as part of the Biden administration’s agenda. She said that President Biden has set ambitious goals for climate policies that will set the United States on “an irreversible path toward net zero carbon emissions by 2050.”

Granholm’s message: Granholm focused her talk on renewable energy investment and she discussed how the United States is dedicated to working with the rest of the world to cut emissions to get to net-zero. She touched on assorted topics, including investing in renewables, creating a resilient grid, installing hundreds of miles of new transmission lines to reach new renewable energy sources, improving carbon removal from current fossil fuels, promoting hydrogen production, researching next-generation battery storage, and realizing the potential massive economic boom that could come with all this investment by the U.S. Department of Energy.

There was one glaring omission from that list: Nuclear.

Canada’s net-zero pledge needs all-in commitment, says SNC-Lavalin

March 15, 2021, 12:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

A new technical report from Montreal-based SNC-Lavalin finds Canada’s stated goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 to be achievable but stresses the importance of immediate action and investment in all forms of low-carbon energy production, including nuclear, hydro, renewables, carbon capture and storage, and hydrogen.

According to the 100-page document, Engineering Net Zero, Canada needs to triple its power production levels over the next 30 years, as forecasts show demand growing from 500 TWh to 1,500 TWh.

A 28-page executive summary of the report is available online.

Rep. Dan Crenshaw writes op-ed for The Hill in support of nuclear

March 9, 2021, 6:59AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Crenshaw

In an opinion piece published last Friday in The Hill, Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R., Texas) says that the Biden administration should focus on nuclear power in order to provide clean and reliable power to the grid. Speaking from the recent experience of dealing with the polar vortex that greatly affected the Texas electric grid, Crenshaw said, “People all over the world are . . . demanding cleaner energy that reduces carbon emissions. The Biden administration believes we can do this by prioritizing solar and wind energy. They’re wrong.”

Crenshaw continued, “If the Texas grid was solely or even mostly reliant on renewables last month, our situation would be far more dire. So how do we achieve both a massive reduction in emissions while also maintaining reliable baseload energy? Nuclear.”

To fight climate change, accept nuclear energy

October 23, 2020, 12:17PMANS Nuclear Cafe

“The world needs a mix of renewable power sources, including one that can carry on producing power when the others can’t—the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow,” British journalist Jonathan Gornall writes in an opinion piece posted Wednesday on the Asia Times website. Gornall argues that the residents of Suffolk County in the United Kingdom would be better served by the expansion of the Sizewell nuclear power plant than by leaving a wooded area untouched.

Popular Mechanics takes the wind out of renewables study

October 9, 2020, 7:01AMANS Nuclear Cafe

A wind farm in East Sussex, England, is flanked by 400-kV power lines from the Dungeness nuclear power plant. Photo: David Iliff/Wikimedia Commons

A paper out of the University of Sussex that correlates the carbon output of 123 countries with their nuclear power programs has received a critical look from Popular Mechanics, which takes to task some of the researchers’ premises in an article by Caroline Delbert.

In the paper, the researchers make the claim that nuclear and renewable energy programs do not tend to coexist well together in national low-carbon energy systems but instead crowd each other out and limit effectiveness. Delbert, however, points out that suggesting that nuclear power plants don’t play a significant role in reducing carbon emissions is “wild and baseless.”