A new nationwide survey found that a strong majority of Americans agreed that nuclear power should be part of the U.S. energy mix in the future when the power source was linked to low-carbon electricity generation.
The survey arranged by Bisconti Research with Quest Global Research on behalf of the Nuclear Energy Institute carried a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points. The results of the Aug. 30 to Sept. 16 suervey, however, show strong support for nuclear power once those responding to the survey were told that power source was associated with low-carbon generation.
The survey of 1,000 adults found 84 percent of respondents indicated that nuclear energy “should be important in the future.” Fifty percent of respondents indicated the felt nuclear power was “very important,” part of the country's future energy mix.
The survey also found that more than 80 percent of all demographic groups agreed that nuclear power was important. In addition, 64 percent of those surveyed indicated support for nuclear power without having been told that it was a low-carbon source of power. Twenty-six percent indicated they were “strongly” in favor of nuclear power prior to being informed of the role it could play in combating global warming.
Ann Bisconti, president of Bisconti Research Inc., called the results of the survey “eye-opening.”
"Once they are made aware of the magnitude of nuclear energy's impact in the low-carbon electricity mix, Americans' belief in nuclear energy's future value is almost universal and crosses gender and political party,” Bisconti said.
Now, some industry leaders are saying, all that's left to do is to convince the government of the potential back-pedaling that would be done to the environment if nuclear power plants close due to economic reasons.
UBS bank this week said the industry is poised to lose ground, dropping from over 19 percent to about 18 percent of the country's electricity generation by 2030 due primarily to the economic intrusion of cheap natural gas, which will push companies to shut down hugely expensive nuclear power plants.
Every shut down nuclear power plant implies (all things being equal) that a gas- or coal-powered power plant will be built to take its place, which would be a step in the wrong direction when the country's carbon-emissions goals of reduction are taken into account.
“The concern that I have right now … we could actually be retiring some assets soon .. before the Clean Power Plan is effective … and we're actually building a bigger problem for ourselves to solve,” Trib Total Media quoted Chief Operating Officer of the Nuclear Energy Institute Maria Korsnick as saying at an industry forum in Pittsburgh on Wednesday.
Under the Clean Power Plan, states will have a year to document how they will cut carbon emissions from power generation by a third. The industry pushed to have nuclear power included in the plan at all. In the final draft, only new nuclear power plants or plants with capacity upgrades qualify as inclusion in the state plans, which will be submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Industry leaders and analysts discussed the plight of the industry at a forum sponsored by Bloomberg BNA and Nuclear Matters. Chair of the Nuclear Engineering program at Penn State University Arthur Motta decried the gap in power supply and engineering talent if nuclear plants close and no new plants are built to replace them.
“Once the supply chain is broken, it's hard to rebuild it,” Motta said.
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