Coal Y natural gas together they produce two thirds of our electricity, divided almost evenly between them. Nuclear produces 20%, hydro produces 7%, and renewable about 7%. Petroleum it produces even more energy than coal or gas, but it is used almost entirely for transportation, except during polar vortices, when coal, gas, and wind do not produce their share.
But nuclear power only advances, it is rarely affected by anything.
This reliability of nuclear power, plus carbon emissions as low as wind, is why Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon, President and TerraPower CEO Chris Levesque, Rocky Mountain Power President and CEO Officer Gary Hoogeveen and Nuclear Power Institute President and CEO Maria Korsnick attended an event at the Wyoming State Capitol to announce the intention to replace coal plants in the state with advanced nuclear power.
Interest in new nuclear plants is growing beyond Wyoming as the states of the western region like Montana, Nebraska, Utah, Idaho, and North Dakota are re-evaluating the role of nuclear power, particularly applications for advanced nuclear reactors that pair well with wind and solar. And it adds to the growing interest from service and technology developers such as Tennessee Valley Authority Y NuScale to improve the transition from coal to nuclear power.
The The European Union is also assessing a transition from coal to nuclear.
Although U.S. coal plants have reduced their emissions significantly in recent decades, State Energy wallets are eliminating carbonand increase natural gas as quickly as possible. The EIA projects that a total of 30 gigawatts of coal-fired generation capacity will be phased out by 2025.
But the best replacement energy sources for coal are nuclear and hydroelectric. These are hampered by extreme regulations, hostile policies, and poor financing options, all of which can be fixed with serious political will and public-private partnerships like the one outlined here.
In addition, there is considerable overlap between job functions in a coal-fired power plant and a nuclear power plant. Indeed, nuclear power is in a unique position to redirect skilled workers from the coal power industry to new nuclear plants, while historically offering the highest median salary throughout the energy sector. Keeping these jobs supports local communities that could otherwise be devastated by the closure of coal-fired power plants.
With a recent increased diseases of coal miners, replacing coal with nuclear power will be a good thing, since nuclear jobs are the safest of all jobs and the workdays lost in the nuclear industry due to injuries and illnesses are the lowest of any industry. Even Cancer rates for nuclear workers are lower than for the general population..
Quite a different thing is fuel. Nuclear requires a million times less fuel than local to generate the same amount of electricity. We have enough uranium for thousands of years right now, but new technological advances from DOE’s PNNL and ORNL National Laboratories have made mining uranium from seawater affordable. Since U in seawater is continually renewed through chemical reactions in the earth’s crust, nuclear fuel made from U extracted from seawater makes nuclear power as renewable as solar, hydro, and wind. .
Most people think that replacing coal with gas is a disaster. In fact, natural gas keep growing faster than all other sources in the United States and Europe. It’s cheap and will be for decades. The carbon emissions from gas are about half that of coal, even with its fugitive emissions, and it has none of the nasty metals of coal, particulate emissions, and sulfur.
Gas plant outages are rare and most gas systems work when there is no electricity. And we have a lot of domestic natural gas, more than any other country in the world, and enough to power the United States for many centuries.
On the downside, gas is still a carbon-emitting fossil fuel, its fracking can cause small earthquakes, it tends to explode occasionally, and requires an extensive network of gas pipelines and infrastructure.
In fact, there is a growing movement against fracking for natural gas, the underlying reason gas is cheap and why it is replacing coal so quickly. New York flatly bans fracking, as does Maryland. Parts of California have bans, as do many counties in Pennsylvania, Texas, New Mexico, Ohio, and Colorado, though state governments have rejected local bans and appear to be winning in federal courts.
Renewables will continue to rise, but they can’t reach levels fast enough to affect climate change, and they still require a lot of natural gas to back them up, not to mention more steel than we produce. And a lot of land.
Enter new advanced nuclear.
Small modular reactors and advanced nuclear technologies offer a way forward for retired coal plants and their workers. Taking advantage of the compatibility of existing infrastructure will reduce electricity costs and, in circumstances where technologies are compatible, construction costs will decrease.
TerraPower, the brainchild of Bill Gates, together with GE Hitachi, has developed a 345 MW sodium-cooled fast reactor with a molten salt energy storage system. Storage technology can increase the system’s output to 500 MW of power for more than five and a half hours when needed, which is equivalent to the energy needed to power around 400,000 homes.
With the ability of nuclear power to run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for years (capacity factors> 95%), this equates to a new gas plant. This innovation allows a Natrium plant to seamlessly integrate with renewable resources and will lead to faster and more cost-effective decarbonization of electricity generation. Additionally, the technology’s novel architecture separates and simplifies major structures, reducing complexity, cost, and construction schedule, while providing safe and reliable electricity.
And it cannot be melted.
“I am delighted to see Wyoming selected for this demonstration pilot project, as our great state is the perfect location for this type of innovative utility facility and our experienced workforce looks forward to the jobs this project will provide,” he said. Wyoming Governor Mark. Gordon.
In October 2020, the US Department of Energy (DOE), through its Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP), awarded TerraPower $ 80 million in seed funding to demonstrate Natrium technology.
Along with PacifiCorp and GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, members of the project team include engineering and construction partner Bechtel, Northwest Power, Duke Energy
Maria Korsnick, President and CEO of the Nuclear Power Institute, noted: “With the retirement of coal plants, a transition to nuclear power means that we can continue to use the experience of coal workers and infrastructure developed over decades to achieve our decarbonization goals, while offering jobs well. paid and highly skilled in the coal communities. “