Source: US News | GEERT DE CLERCQ | July 11, 2019
The United States plans to extend the lifespans of existing nuclear reactors and support new technologies as it seeks to revive an industry seen as crucial to its energy security, a senior U.S. official said on Thursday.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette told an International Energy Agency conference on nuclear and hydrogen in Paris that both technologies were crucial for reducing carbon emissions and boosting energy security.
The U.S. nuclear industry has been in the doldrums for years because of competition from cheap natural gas and falling costs wind and solar power costs.
Several nuclear plants have closed while a project to build two reactors in South Carolina was abandoned in 2017 with the reactors half-built and billions of dollars in sunk costs.
“We believe strongly that a strong domestic nuclear energy (industry), enabled by our existing fleet and enhanced by game-changing advanced nuclear technologies is critical to our nation’s energy security, our national security, our environmental sustainability…,” Brouillette said.
The U.S. department of energy (DOE) agrees with the IEA that extending the life of existing reactors is perhaps the most competitive way to produce low-carbon electricity, he said. The DOE was working to help extend the licenses for the existing fleet out to eighty years, he added.
The United States has nearly 100 nuclear reactors in operation, which produced about 20% of total electrical output in 2018, World Nuclear Association data show.
Most U.S. reactors already have seen their licenses extended to 60 years from 40 years.