MIT Report Says Costs Haunt Nuclear Industry

Nuclear power could contribute significantly to the nation's goals of a low-carbon energy future, but higher costs are undermining that possibility, a report released this week by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said.

nuclear power The Future of Nuclear Energy in a Carbon-Constrained World,” outlines the hurdles facing the industry during this time of shifting energy sentiments and policies. It is part of a series of reports on energy issues, including reports on geothermal energy, coal, natural gas, the nuclear fuel cycle and solar power, noted Power Magazine.

The starkly discouraging report notes that the cost of power generation from a variety of sources is going down, save one: Nuclear power.

The report emphasizes the need for the industry to bring costs down through better construction management practices, standardization of components and plants, development of small modular reactors and the use of passive safety features that would also help mitigate the public's concerns of the risks of nuclear power.

The report also says that policy makers should work to level the playing field for nuclear power, which could play an important role in the low-carbon future of electricity generation. Development of a site for testing new reactors with standardized services is one options policy makers should pursue, the report said.

Under the current economic atmosphere, “Premature closures of existing plants undermine efforts to reduce carbon dioxide and other power sector emissions and increase the cost of achieving emission reduction targets,” says the report. “Ameliorating this deficiency would change nuclear energy's market position and conserve much existing nuclear capacity.”

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  • Anonymous

    The irony is that when the existing nuclear plant closes the electric rates then go up so there is really no advantage to closing the nuclear plant. Politically, however, it is difficult for lawmakers to raise rates by keeping the nuclear plant, even if it produces cleaner power. So higher rates are inevitable either way.