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Nuclear power plants received a much needed boost from the Trump administration this week when the White House approved $3.7 billion in loan guarantees for two struggling power plants in Georgia.
The pair is currently under construction, and has already received $8.3 billion in similar loans from the Obama administration.
The loans would be funneled through three companies to the two projects. Of the promised debt, $1.67 billion would go to the Georgia Power Company, $1.6 billion would go to the Oglethorpe Power Corporation and $415 million would go to the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia.
To date, the U.S. government has offered $12 billion for this pair of projects.
Nuclear power projects in the U.S. have had to battle the rise of natural gas – a fossil fuel considered to be healthier for the environment than coal and oil, while being cheaper than nuclear energy. The Energy Information Administration says the share of nuclear in the U.S. electricity generation mix will drop from 20 percent in 2016 to 11 percent in 2050, as more nuclear capacity is retired than built, and as other fuels such as natural gas and renewables gain market share.
According to a nuclear fuel expert who has worked on developing nuclear gas turbines, some 80 percent of the substantial construction costs for nuclear power projects where nuclear fission is used to heat steam plants is spent on the technology and facilities outside of the so-called nuclear island, the one that contains the nuclear reactor.
According to the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), a total of 99 nuclear reactors currently supply around 20 percent of the U.S. electricity and approximately two-thirds of the nation’s carbon-free electricity.
By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com
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Zainab Calcuttawala is an American journalist based in Morocco. She completed her undergraduate coursework at the University of Texas at Austin (Hook’em) and reports on…