Union of Concerned Scientists Acknowledges Importance of Nuclear Power in Carbon Emission Reduction

By Craig Piercy

A political seismic shift occurred this week – and I am not talking about the mid-term election.  The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) released a report Thursday acknowledging nuclear power’s important role in reducing carbon emissions.

Their findings are clear: when nuclear power plants close carbon emissions rise, as their generation is replaced by coal and natural gas rather than other clean energy sources. To be precise, UCS found that closing all of the nuclear power plants that are currently scheduled to be decommissioned or that are unprofitable would cause U.S. power sector emissions to rise by 4-6%!

The UCS report comes at an important time. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a dire warning on the impacts of global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The inescapable fact is that the U.S. nuclear fleet needs to be preserved in order to avoid a climactic point of no return.

I’m thrilled that UCS recommended a number of steps to reduce plant closures and maintain nuclear’s clean energy production, including implementing carbon pricing, technology neutral, low-carbon electricity standards, and temporary financial support for nuclear plants at risk of closure.  I would note their core recommendations echo our work on the Nuclear in the States Toolkit.

Let “The Awakening” continue!

Craig PiercyCraig Piercy has represented ANS in Washington, D.C. for the past 13 years. He works with Congress and Executive Branch officials to advocate for policies that support nuclear science and technology.


7 thoughts on “Union of Concerned Scientists Acknowledges Importance of Nuclear Power in Carbon Emission Reduction

  1. Don Brindle

    Interesting that David Lochbaum seems to have left UCS very recently, according to Wikipedia. Coincidence??

  2. David Dixon

    Of course the next question is how to grow nuclear.

    I am not convinced the current legislation to design new plants is the answer. To get to a meaningful answer we need to first ask ‘what is the problem?’. I think SCAN’s problems point to the answer – the US has lost the infrastructure to efficiently build plants. This is typically a $2 – 4B project. That was billions of dollars!! Inefficiency is not allowable; this has to be addressed. Korea and China can build plants efficiently; it can be done; we need to do it.

  3. Donald Eggett

    Thanks Craig for this update on this volatile issue. Collectively, we in the nuclear arena have been pushing hard for years for the public to open up their eyes and realize this one major benefit of the the many it brings. Unfortunately, our nuclear competitors know this and are only looking to reap the benefits, having had the door opened and allowing them to take advantage of the situation.

  4. William Ernest Schenewerk

    The so-called report merely states the obvious: 5 cent/kWh power price caused by cheap natural gas is putting all non-subsidized power generators out of business. Natural gas is essentially a byproduct of oil production. Eventually the nominal price of natural gas will be 1/7 the price of crude oil ~8.5 USD/MMBtu. Busbar generation cost will be ~0.10 USD/kWh as airplane motors generating power use ~10,000 BTU/kWh. Intermittent wind and solar generation precludes CCGT (Combined Cycle Gas Turbine) power because exhaust-heated steam cycle never runs. Problem is that by the time that happens, all coal and atomic power plants will be shut down. Junk man will come for wind and solar power as equipment half-life is less than 20 years. For California: 2001 all over again, except it will be a permanent condition.

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