Energy Plan Reaction: Plan’s Emphasis on Nuclear is Costly Option

Contrary to the proposed energy plan, energy efficiency could replace all the electricity currently supplied by nuclear power for the same cost as continuing to operate existing U.S. reactors, says an analysis by the Safe Energy Communication Council.

WASHINGTON, DC, US, 2001-05-18 <> “The Bush Administration’s nuclear resurgence scheme offers no financial relief to electricity customers and stymies real progress toward reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions,” says research director Christopher Sherry. “Building more reactors would drain investment from other more effective and cheaper options such as energy efficiency and renewable energy, thus actually resulting in increased greenhouse gas emissions.” Savings from reduced utility bills through energy efficiency would provide significant economic benefits versus further investment in uneconomic atomic reactors, according to the analysis. Extending the lives of existing reactors and building new reactors would hinder a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, since investment in nuclear power would, in fact, displace funding for other more economic and effective options for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. An investment in energy efficiency is more economic than nuclear because it could replace electricity from nuclear at a cost of 2.4c/kWh. Cost-effective energy efficiency improvements could reduce electricity use by 33 to 75 percent of total national use, and would create more jobs than building new nuclear reactors. “Further investment in nuclear power would involve a severe misallocation of capital, draining investment from other more economic options such as energy efficiency and renewable energy such as wind power,” it explains. “The carbon and pollution reduction potential of renewable energy exceeds the potential emissions avoided through nuclear power plant relicensing.” The Nuclear Energy Institute estimates that relicensing the entire fleet of U.S. reactors will avoid emissions of 216 million tonne of CO2 in 2020. The Department of Energy indicates that renewable energy technologies could reduce emissions from 209 to 444 million tonne during the same time. “Energy efficiency and renewable energy provide additional economic benefits beyond reducing greenhouse gas emissions without environmental liabilities such as nuclear waste and the threat of accidents at aging nuclear reactors,” says Sherry. “Commercially available efficiency and renewable energy technologies can provide cost-effective energy solutions today. The Bush-Cheney energy scheme would require a massive investment in environmentally destructive and dangerous fossil fuel exploration and nuclear power plant construction that would not produce significant amounts of energy within the next ten years.”

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