MIT Study Finds Nuclear Energy Imperative for an Affordable, Clean Energy Future
What’s New? MIT’s Energy Initiative this week released “The Future of Nuclear Energy in a Carbon-Constrained World,” a follow up to important studies on the future of nuclear energy in the United States first produced by the academy in 2003 and again in 2009. This latest assessment underscores the critical role nuclear energy plays in ensuring affordable electricity, as well as providing a large share of low-carbon generation.
- The study debunks the myth that meeting clean energy goals with 100 percent renewables will be straightforward, easy or affordable.
- It urges lawmakers to institute polices that create a level playing field for clean technologies in energy markets and value the non-emitting attributes of nuclear with Zero-Emission Credit (ZEC) programs. Already three states have established ZEC programs, and a fourth, Connecticut, has passed a law allowing for nuclear power to compete with renewables.
- The study finds that nuclear power will keep electricity prices low, particularly where there are constraints on carbon emissions. This supports previous studies that show that closing nuclear plants increases wholesale electricity prices.
- It points to opportunities for improvement in new plant construction and operation costs, which the industry is addressing by using proven construction management practices and shifting from onsite construction to manufacturing and assembly at factories.
- And it calls on the government to establish programs and funding for new nuclear technologies by sharing licensing costs, funding research and development, and providing electricity production tax credits.
What NEI’s John Kotek has to say about the study: “MIT’s study highlights nuclear energy as a vital contributor in helping meet environmental goals across the globe, and MIT researchers are also explicit in linking the loss of existing nuclear power in the U.S. with increased costs for electricity consumers and setbacks for clean air targets. As our nation’s largest clean energy source, nuclear energy should continue to play a prominent role in any credible program to mitigate against carbon and air pollution.
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