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Nuclear power is an indispensable part of the Biden administration's plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 52 percent over the next ten years, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said at the annual general meeting of the American Nuclear Society.
"President Biden is absolutely committed to getting this country powered by clean energy, using every single clean energy tool available," Secretary Granholm said, as quoted by World Nuclear News, adding that "Carbon-free nuclear power is an absolutely critical part of our decarbonisation equation."
Nuclear power has a very low carbon footprint, but a bad rap has kept it outside the emissions-cutting spotlight. There have been calls from the industry to include nuclear power in energy transition plans as experts argued that these plans will fail without nuclear. Still, acceptance of this fact has been slow in coming for politicians, which makes Granholm's statement a rare glimmer of hope for the nuclear industry.
Nuclear power in the U.S. has been increasingly going out of favor not just because of reputational problems but because of the abundance of cheap natural gas, which has compromised the competitiveness of many nuclear plants and has led to canceled plans for more capacity. This may change now with the Biden administration's ambitious climate agenda.
The first step, Secretary Granholm said, is to preserve the existing nuclear capacity of the country, which generates a fifth of the total U.S. power output.
"DOE already works across the nuclear sector, which includes some of you. We work with you and we work with you on projects to reduce the operating costs and increase revenues from the nuclear fleet, and with this budget we've put USD175 million into these modernization efforts," she said.
"A lot of it is going into developing and deploying new and improved fuels to enhance performance and to reduce costs. And we're going to keep doing everything that we can to encourage our partners in the states to keep their reactors online."
At the same time, the administration is looking into new nuclear power technology and has earmarked some $700 million for tapping their "huge potential".
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com