November 8, 2021
The PG&E Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant in Avila Beach, California in 2012. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
California’s last nuclear power plant, scheduled to close in 2025, could aid the fight against climate change, cut energy costs and provide water to the parched state if allowed to stay open, according to a new study.
The findings won the support of former U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, who in a web presentation said countries prematurely shutting down nuclear plants ended up using more fossil fuels instead.
“We are not in a position in the near-term future to go to 100% renewable energy,” said Chu, who was not one of the report’s authors. “We will need some power that we can turn on and dispatch at will, and that leaves two choices: fossil fuel or nuclear.”
Researchers from Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology [and LucidCatalyst] said in the study released Monday that keeping Diablo Canyon open through 2035 would cut greenhouse-gas emissions from California’s power sector 10% each year, by reducing the amount of electricity needed from natural-gas plants. It would also save $2.6 billion for utility ratepayers. Keep Diablo Canyon open until 2045, and the savings would grow to $21 billion, they said. The report’s authors also examined using the coastal power plant’s electricity to produce hydrogen or desalinate sea water.
Note Justin Aborn, Senior Consultant at LucidCatalyst, performed the analysis in and wrote Chapters 3 and 4 of the report.