THE FUTURE OF NUCLEAR POWER.
Our nuclear program in the United States is providing an extremely valuable proportion of our electric needs and it will continue to do so in the foreseeable future. Indeed it will rise dramatically,
Starting thirty years ago, over a hundred plants were built. They amount to a quarter of the total world’s capacity. They have produced and continue to produce about 17% of our needs despite the ravings of a lunatic fringe, like Mr. and Mrs. Tom Hayden, who couldn’t tell the difference between a nuclear bomb and a nuclear power plant.
The earliest plants were conservatively only licensed for twenty to thirty years so how will they help us in the future. Don’t they now have to be decommissioned?
The answer is, “No,” because our experience has been so good that the management of the plants and the regulators realize that their true lifetime is a lot longer than they were licensed for. Thus, most of them are going through license renewal to extend their lifetimes.
So far 48 have already had their licenses renewed for new end dates ranging from 2030 to 2045. A further twelve are under review and 23 more are expected to apply shortly. That means more than 80% of our nuclear capacity will be providing electricity far beyond my lifetime and over twice as much as originally planned.
The benefit of this is not just that they will be providing power but that extending the license is a very sensible and cost-effective thing to do. A nuclear plant costs a great deal to build but it is very cheap to run. That’s quite the opposite of a coal plant that’s cheap to build but very expensive to run because it uses so much fuel. Thus, these newly licensed plants will avoid all the capital charges of new plants and simply incur the cheap running costs.
Furthermore, because of the excellent experience with the plants many can be up-rated that is run at greater power levels to produce more electricity. Twelve have already been up-rated by from almost two percent to as much as, in the case of one plant, 20%. That’s like getting a fifth of a plant for free. In addition to these twelve another 8 are under review.
Thus, our nuclear program is moving along just fine with our existing plants, but it doesn’t stop there. Because the demand from you, the electricity users, keeps rising more plants are needed and 32 are in the licensing works at the present time. Unfortunately, despite all the publicity, solar and wind plants can never provide more than a miniscule contribution to the nation’s needs. At best they will power emergency road signs and heat a few Californian swimming pools.
Our nuclear power program is something of which to be proud.