Over the last month, advancements have been made to increase nuclear energy around the world and within the United States. New legislative initiatives are seeking to increase knowledge around how nuclear technology can be beneficial for our nation and grants certain power plants the ability to remain open after a forecasted closure. Meanwhile, with coal-fire generation decreasing, natural gasses are continuing to be vital for the energy industry. To learn about these recent developments, keep reading below.
California’s Nuclear Power Plant Will Remain Open
Most recently, the Biden administration announced a preliminary approval for California’s Diablo Canyon Power Plant, the state’s last operating plant, to remain running. This decision will include $1.1 billion to help the power plant continue operations. The plant was scheduled to terminate operations in 2025 but was chosen to benefit from the administration’s new civil nuclear credit program. This decision was granted by the Energy Department after they turned down a financial aid request from the Palisade plant in Michigan. Final terms have yet to be determined.
NEI’s Legislative Proposal
As 2023 draws closer, more than two dozen states have tuned their attention to carbon-free nuclear energy. With the midterm election mostly behind us, legislators are trying to determine how their state can take advantage of nuclear energy. The Nuclear Energy Institute is outlining different proposals for legislators to review. As energy continues to advance, carbon-free nuclear development remains a top priority. NEI’s proposals keep this in mind while catering to each state’s specific needs and landscapes. NEI is seeking to increase knowledge about how utilizing nuclear energy can help achieve policy goals, support advanced reactor deployment and increase understanding of why advanced nuclear technology can be beneficial.
Angra 3 Revitalized After 7 Years
Brazil’s third nuclear reactor resumed construction after being on pause for the last seven years. Hope that work would be able to restart again started swirling in February as Eletronuclear and the Agis consortium of Ferreira Guedes, Matricial and ADtranz signed a contract. Since September, tests have been conducted to ensure that the material is of the highest quality. Eletronuclear plans to have Angra 3 completed and ready to begin operations by the end of 2026.
The Angra 3 project originally began back in 1984 but was halted two years later, before it reached the construction phase. In 2006, the project was revitalized and began construction in 2010. However, corrupt government contracts were found when it was 65% complete and once again put a pause on Angra 3 in 2015. Angra 1 and 2 supply roughly 3% of the country’s electricity but the country’s national energy plan claims that the goal is to bring 10 GW of nuclear capacity to Brazil by 2050.
Coal-fire Generation Falls
After a surprising jump in 2021, coal-fire generation is predicted to be down by 6% from last year. For over half of the year, coal inventories at power plants were 23% less than in 2021. In addition, railroad challenges have disrupted coal shipments to power plants. These coal-fired power plants were predicted to become more essential in the energy industry due to its ability to be a substitute for natural gas. However, as a result of these shortages, the electric power industry will have to remain dependent on natural gasses instead of transitioning to coal. Natural gas is set to increase in 2023. Coal-fired generation has a history of declining. Before its rise in 2021, it dropped every year since 2014. The spike from last year has contributed to higher natural gas prices and an increase in demand after COVID-19.
Nuclear Power Is Making Strides
Between Brazil’s Angra 3 nuclear reactor resuming construction and the legislative advancements within the United States, nuclear has been at the forefront of political conversations. At ARC, we support the advancement of nuclear energy and hope to see it gain momentum as we plan for the future.