Could New Nuclear Energy be Hip Enough for California? | AREVA North America: Next Energy Blog


PolitiCal, the LA Times space on California state politics, blogged about a nuclear energy debate that was held by state lawmakers yesterday, saying:

“Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), chairman of the committee, noted that California already gets 15% of its electricity from nuclear power, although tough restrictions mean no nuclear power plant has been constructed in more than three decades in California.

“Nuclear energy has seemed to have had a resurgence in terms of conversation,” Padilla said. “I’m not shy about having that conversation.”

Also commenting on the hearing, local San Francisco KGO-TV wrote that “California’s own strict global warming law mandating severe reductions in greenhouse gas emissions is forcing the state to look at where it gets its electricity. Since coal-fired power plants pollute too much, some lawmakers think it may be time to re-consider a much cleaner option that has zero emissions: nuclear power.”

This is not the first hint that California is warming up the thought of building new nuclear energy. AREVA signed a preliminary agreement earlier this year with the Fresno Nuclear Energy Group (FNEG) to work together on the development of a Clean Energy Park—a concept that merges base-load nuclear energy with renewable sources like wind and solar.

Speaking at an event hosted by the California Public Utilities Commission earlier this month, FNEG President John Hudson and AREVA Executive Vice President Alan Hanson addressed questions about the project and nuclear energy. The Solar Home & Business Journal covered the meeting and had a few interesting comments from the speakers:

Mr. Hutson said the primary purpose for building the nuclear complex, which is to have two reactors, each with a peak capacity of 1,600 megawatts, is not to produce electricity.

“We’re in this for the water,” he said, and the nuclear development group is looking at “water, food, farming first, and electricity second.”

Mr. Hutson said the question of which technology is best suited to provide large amounts of cleaner energy does not boil down to “is it nuclear or solar? Is it nuclear or wind? Truth of the matter is, solar and wind can’t do it without nuclear, and nuclear can’t do it without solar and wind.”

The article also quotes Alan Hanson as saying “a combination of nuclear and renewable sources of power is the right answer…mentioning that China has been building new nuclear reactors at a rapid pace while also developing the capacity to produce large amounts of solar and wind energy equipment. Otherwise, he said, the United States will be allowing the future to be dictated by other places in the world, such as Asia.”

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