Saving nuclear power plant could help California meet climate goals – report, Energy News, ET EnergyWorld

California: California is expected to extend the life of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant to meet the state’s climate goals, a report from academics and a consulting firm said on Monday.

The report from researchers at Stanford, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and LucidCatalyst, LLC said postponing plant closure to 2025 would reduce California’s carbon emissions from power plants by more than 10% compared to 2017 levels, would reduce reliance on natural gas, and save up to $ 21 billion in power system costs.

The Diablo Canyon plant generates approximately 8% of the state of California’s electricity and 15% of its carbon-free energy. Keeping it open until 2045 could save up to $ 21 billion in power system costs and spare 90,000 acres of land for power generation, he said.
Starting in 2016, the PG&E utility decided to allow the licenses of two Diablo Canyon reactors to expire in 2024 and 2025, which would shut down the last nuclear power plant in the country’s most populous state. The move came as the public worried about earthquakes, nuclear waste and the use of water to cool power plants.

The planned shutdown also came with the belief that the energy produced by wind and solar power would make up for the lost electricity. But California faced rotating power outages in August 2020 during a heat wave; hydropower production has sagged with droughts; and the shift to electric vehicles is likely to add stress to the grid.

Steven Chu, US Secretary of Energy under former President Barack Obama, said the shutdown of nuclear power plants by Japan and Germany in recent years has resulted in increased carbon emissions from fossil fuels.

“In order to fight climate change in the best possible way, I think nuclear power… is something we should really consider and ask PG&E to reconsider,” said Chu, now a physics professor at Stanford.

PG&E did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The 2,240-megawatt Diablo Canyon plant could also provide electricity to seawater desalination plants for drinking water and agriculture, and to produce cleaner-burning hydrogen, according to The report. He did not address how nuclear proponents could convince politicians and regulators at PG&E and California to complete the complicated process of keeping the plant open.

But Jacopo Buongiorno, author of the report and director of advanced nuclear power systems at MIT, said the researchers had shared the findings with some California officials. “We really hope the debate starts now,” he said.

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