How the nuclear industry is positioning itself in the modern energy market is an important part of the future of nuclear power. The industry faces real challenges when it comes to how the world perceives this energy source, but there are also many documented benefits to nuclear power. Here are four positive talking points that will help the industry refocus the conversation around nuclear.
1. Safe and Reliable
Nuclear energy is documented as the safest, most reliable, most concentrated energy source on the market today. The reliable nature of nuclear in particular makes it a real competitor against renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power. These energy sources struggle with providing a steady and reliable source of energy as they depend so heavily on environmental factors. In comparison, nuclear provides a consistent, predictable, and reliable load balancing energy source that can meet the growing demand for electricity at scale.
2. Emission Free Power
The importance of nuclear energy and renewables is critical to a clean energy future. It’s clear that the value nuclear energy brings to the energy market is firmly based in its overall lack of carbon emissions. As energy demand increases across our country and across the world, nuclear energy is a cornerstone of a balanced and carbon mitigated energy mix.
The environmental impact of electricity generation varies significantly depending on the power source. Coal, for example, is the dirtiest form of power, producing vast amounts of greenhouse gas emissions that exacerbate atmospheric pollutants. In comparison, nuclear energy has one of the lowest rates of greenhouse gas emissions in the electricity generation market. Greenhouse gas emissions released by nuclear power facilities are comparable with those attributed to hydroelectric and wind power facilities.
3. Rapidly Evolving Technology
Today’s nuclear generation looks very different from the reactors and power plants of the past. In fact, more new plants are under construction worldwide than at any time since the 1990s. Companies are developing advanced reactors that are cheaper, smaller and simpler to build than current designs. The first Generation 3+ plants, including the AP1000, APR1400 and EPR, are coming online, and many others are under construction. Market distortions that forced some plants to close early are being addressed in several jurisdictions so other plants don’t face the same fate. These changes in the look and the capability of nuclear power are exciting within the industry, but most importantly designed to meet the needs of a growing customer base in safer and more community friendly ways.
4. Communication Matters
Public perception of nuclear power has struggled under a tide of misinformation, fear, and lack of politically supported outreach. The global push for renewable energy has strangely left nuclear in the shadow of wind and solar energy. Amazingly, most Americans surveyed do not even know that nuclear is the largest source of emission-free power in the U.S. A similar majority even thinks nuclear power produces greenhouse gases. Premature closing of power plants has conditioned the public to think that nuclear has come and gone, but by communicating the value of the energy source, the industry can make a difference in the future of clean energy and nuclear power.
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