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Biden Could Subsidize Nuclear Power To Reach U.S. Climate Goals

The U.S. Administration has reportedly realized that America cannot reach its new ambitious emission-reduction goals without nuclear power generation. The White House has signaled it could create new subsidies to support nuclear plants, Reuters reported on Wednesday, quoting sources with knowledge of ongoing private talks.

U.S. President Joe Biden unveiled last month a new emissions-reduction target aiming to cut greenhouse gas emissions. As part of the new U.S. Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) for the Paris Agreement, which President Biden rejoined on his first day in office, the U.S. will now target to achieve a 50-52 percent reduction from 2005 levels in economy-wide net greenhouse gas pollution by 2030.

President Biden has also said that the Administration would set the course for America to decarbonize its power sector by 2035. This is a very ambitious goal, considering that natural gas accounted for the largest share of U.S. utility-scale electricity generation in 2020, at 40.3 percent, with fossil fuels at 60.3 percent share, also due to coal’s 19.3-percent share of the power mix. 

According to Reuters’ sources, the White House is starting to realize that decarbonizing the power generation would have to involve supporting the emissions-free nuclear power generation.

The Administration is considering some form of production tax credit for nuclear power plants. This could be included in the $2.3 trillion American jobs and infrastructure plan, Reuters’ sources said.

Nuclear power plants have been closing recently in the United States as safety and security costs are growing while competition from natural gas and renewables power generation is also on the rise.

Nuclear power plants have generated around 20 percent of America’s annual electricity since 1990. As of December 31, 2020, 94 nuclear reactors were operating at 56 nuclear power plants in 28 states. The United States has the largest nuclear electricity generation capacity, and generates more nuclear electricity than any other country in the world, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).  

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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