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Michael Shellenberger Testimony before the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on the reliability, resiliency, and affordability of electric service in the United States

March 11, 2021
By Michael Shellenberger

Nuclear power plants have a significant role to play in ensuring the nation's electric power system functions reliably as more intermittent power is added to the grid.

From the study:

Nuclear plants are among the most reliable components of America’s power grids. Nuclear plants operate as a national fleet at 94 percent annual capacity factor.

A study published in late 2019 found that Germany’s nuclear phase-out is costing its citizens $12 billion per year. 
 
The land requirements of industrial renewable energy projects are two orders of magnitude larger than those of nuclear and natural gas plants. Industrial solar and wind projects require between 300 and 400 times more land than nuclear plants. If the United States were to try to generate all of the energy it uses with renewables, 25 percent to 50 percent of its land would be required, according to the best-available study by a leading energy analyst and advisor to Bill Gates. By contrast, today’s energy system requires just 0.5 percent of land in the United States.
 
The premature closure of nuclear plants threatens reliability, resiliency, affordability, as well as America’s reductions in greenhouse gases. Without state or federal action, the US will close twelve nuclear reactors by 2025, which constitute 10.5 gigawatts of highly-reliable, lowcost, and low-carbon power. Despite ratcheting regulations, the cost of operating America’s nuclear plants fell from $44.57 per megawatt-hour on average in 2012 to $30.42 in 2019.