It Took A Global Energy Crisis For US, European Leaders To Embrace Nuclear Power

It Took A Global Energy Crisis For US, European Leaders To Embrace Nuclear Power

  • The European Parliament voted to label nuclear energy as “green” on Wednesday.
  • The U.S. state and federal governments have taken steps to ensure that aging nuclear power plants are kept running. Both of these developments are taking place against the backdrop of growing acceptance of nuclear energy, as global energy crises pushes decision-makers to reconsider their policies.

U.S. and European leaders have turned to nuclear power to meet energy demands thanks to the ongoing global energy crisis and a desire to end reliance on Russian oil and gas.

The European Union relabeled nuclear energy and natural gas projects as “green” on Wednesday, allowing investors access to cheap loans for their development, The New York Times reported. This resolution follows President Joe Biden’s announcement of a $6 billion fund for maintaining aging nuclear power stations operational late April. California also reversed its decision to shut down the last state nuclear facility shortly afterwards.

“U.S. nuclear reactors are the largest and most reliable source of clean, baseload electricity on our power grid today, generating 19 percent of our electricity, and half of our carbon-free power,” as spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Energy told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “They play a critical role in helping us reach our ambitious goals of 50% reduction in our carbon emissions by the end of the decade, and 100% clean electricity by 2035 and a net-zero economy by 2050.”

The European Parliament’s redesignation of nuclear energy and natural gas was on the table before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but gained urgency after Russia cut off fuel to the continent.

Welcome today’s positive results in the European Parliament on #Taxonomy. The EP made a positive decision and I’m glad Romanians continued efforts to consider gas and nuclear in progressive decarbonisation.

— Klaus Iohannis (@KlausIohannis) July 6, 2022

“International interest is rapidly growing as more countries see our technology as the solution to climate change,” a spokesperson for NuScale Power, a Portland-based nuclear small modular reactor (SMR) company, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. The German embassy told the DCNF that “the German government stands by its position and regards nuclear energy as unsustainable.” The German embassy told the DCNF that “the German government stands by its position and regards nuclear energy as unsustainable.”

In the United States, the nuclear sector has been on the decline for years, with just 92 nuclear reactors remaining operational across 28 states, down from 104 a decade ago, the NYT reported. Just one new nuclear facility has been introduced since 1996, with the Watts Bar Unit 2 facility in Spring City, Tennessee going operational in 2016, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

But, in the wake of Russia’s invasion, there seems to have been a revival of interest in the U.S. nuclear industry, according to the NYT. The federal Biden administration appears to be committed to increasing investment in zero-carbon technology. “President Biden is determined to keep these plants active in order to achieve our clean energy goals,” Jennifer Granholm, Energy Secretary, stated in April. Still, however, no new nuclear plants have been approved by the administration.

In various states too, politicians have begun to reverse and reconsider their opposition to nuclear power. California Democrats have changed their tune on the Diablo Canyon Power Plant (DCPP), which was set to be decommissioned in 2025, but now may remain open after calls from prominent politicians in the state, the NYT reported.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has said he is in favor of extending the plant’s operations beyond its scheduled retirement, and Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California recently penned an op-ed explaining why she changed her mind and now believes that DCPP should remain open.

These reversals allowed the state’s utility provider Pacific Gas & Electric Company to apply for federal funds to keep the plant operating. The people of PG&E pride themselves on the important role Diablo Canyon Power Plant’s (DCPP), plays in their state. To ensure safe, reliable, and clean energy supply to Californians, we’re open to considering all possibilities, in accordance with state policy. A spokesperson for PG&E told TheDCNF that the state had amended the Department of Energy’s Civil Nuclear Credit program guidelines. The Governor also requested that we do so to protect DCPP as an option for grid reliability. PG&E plans to apply for CNC funding if there is a change of policy to extend operations at the plant.

Nuclear plants account for 19% of all energy created in the U.S., making the industry the largest domestically that does not produce carbon emissions. Still “a doubling of nuclear generation in this country,” is well within the realm of possibility, nuclear engineer Steven Nesbit told the NYT. All eligible news publishers that have a wide audience can access the Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation at no cost. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact [email protected].

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