By Jarret Adams
One opinion poll after another shows public support for new nuclear plants is at an all time high. Even the USA Today has recognized that nuclear energy is beginning to make a comeback in the U.S. Americans understand that if we are serious about tackling global warming and breaking our addiction to foreign fuel we must have new nuclear.
There are critics of nuclear power that suggest that conservation, with a mix of solar and wind power, will be enough. Conservation is important and we have made great strides in efficiency but these measures can only get us so far. The Department of Energy expects energy demand to grow by 25 percent by 2030. Can wind and solar power really provide the energy we need to meet that demand? The simple answer is they can’t. We support wind and solar and we want to see more in the United States, but they are not enough.
At AREVA, we are working to ensure the country has the new nuclear plants it needs. In light of growing energy demand, the U.S. must have 35 new nuclear plants to maintain nuclear energy’s current 20 percent share of generation. As the leading nuclear energy company both in the U.S. and abroad, we plan on providing one-third of those plants.
Several companies have already decided to use our EPR™ technology for new plants. We are constructing four EPR reactors overseas and we are pushing ahead to obtain design certification for the U.S. EPR technology from the nuclear Regulatory Commission. We have invested $200 million in the task and assembled a team of more than 500 engineers and technicians to see it through. And our investment in the supporting infrastructure will give the reactor more than 80% U.S. content.
Each new nuclear plant will provide thousands of construction, maintenance and operations jobs on site and many more in the numerous support industries. New nuclear power plants provide clean-baseload energy as well as the jobs the country desperately needs. We hired 600 employees in 2008 and we plan to match that number this year as we prepare to build new plants. This summer, we plan on breaking ground on AREVA Newport News, our $400 million engineering and manufacturing facility in Newport News, Va., which will supply heavy components to the U.S. nuclear energy sector. And, last year we announced the location of our mult-billion nuclear fuel enrichment facility in Idaho Falls, Idaho.
Our support for new nuclear power is unwavering.