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Saving nuclear plant could help California hit climate goals


November 8, 2021

By Timothy Gardner

(Reuters) – California should extend the life of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant to meet state climate goals, a report by academics and a consulting company said on Monday.

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

The Diablo Canyon plant generates about 8% of California’s in-state electricity and 15% of its carbon-free power. Keeping it open to 2045 could save up to $21 billion in power system costs and spare 90,000 acres of land from use for energy production, it said.

Starting in 2016, utility PG&E decided to allow the licenses for two reactors at Diablo Canyon to expire in 2024 and 2025, which would close the last nuclear power plant in the country’s most populous state. The move came amid public concerns about earthquakes, nuclear waste and the use of water to cool the plants.

The planned closure also came with the belief that power generated by wind and solar energy would make up the lost electricity. But California struggled with rotating power outages in August 2020 during a heat wave; hydroelectric generation has sagged with droughts; and the switch to electric vehicles is likely to add stress to the grid.


Note Justin Aborn, Senior Consultant at LucidCatalyst, performed the analysis in and wrote Chapters 3 and 4 of the report.


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