Cheap Shale Gas Threatens Future of Nuclear Energy
From Smart Planet
By Channtal Fleischfresser
America’s use of nuclear power for electricity has been in decline in recent years – the country has lost about 3 percent of its electricity production, or 29 billion kilowatt-hours, since 2010.
Part of the reason for the drop in this carbon-free energy source is that America’s nuclear reactors are aging and need frequent repairs. But a growing concern has been the competition from shale gas – a cheap source of energy, albeit not carbon-free.
Florida’s Duke Energy made the decision to close its Crystal River nuclear plant in Florida, which has been out of service and in need of repairs since 2009, arguing that it would be cheaper to build new turbines for natural gas than to make the $1.5 billion repair needed for the nuclear plant. Another reactor, in Wisconsin, will close this year after similar pressures from shale gas.
Analyst Julien Dumoulin-Smith recently told Bloomberg that four other American reactors are at risk of being closed due to “new power market economics.” Indeed, in some cases plans for new reactors have been jeopardized because of the availability of other, cheaper options.
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