The recent drop in natural gas prices has made it a major contender for cleaner energy production in the U.S. However, some argue that it should not be our only alternative.
In the spotlight for clean energy are solar, wind, and hydropower. These have in the past represented as much as 0.7%, 13.4%, and 21.2% of U.S. low-carbon energy production respectively. And while this market, especially for wind and solar, is growing fast, it is still not up to par with other more efficient power sources.
The nuclear industry has provided 63.3% of U.S. low-carbon produced power in the past, and 19% of the country’s overall power. Nuclear also provides $60 billion a year to economic output, 475,000 direct and secondary jobs, and 573 million tons of carbon emissions not put into the air.
This comes from a study by the Brattle Group, which also asserted that nuclear reactors run at 90% capacity on average, higher than any other type of plant. This leads to inexpensive energy that puts many less pollutants into the air.
Excelon, the country’s largest nuclear power producer, has said it could close some of its facilities, but still calls for the EPA to reevaluate the nuclear climate contributions. This would help keep the remaining nuclear plants open and a viable option for U.S. energy.
The push for renewable energy continues, and so does the growth of natural gas as a cheaper cleaner energy source. But in the end, nuclear will still continue to be a large part of U.S. power portfolios.
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