By Mike Rencheck, CEO, AREVA Inc.
The Tampa Tribune recently ran an article questioning the near-term need for new nuclear power. Unfortunately, the article does little to provide readers with a balanced perspective on the issues and opportunities facing utilities, and how they can respond to their customers’ demands for a steadily increasing supply of clean, reliable electricity.
By dismissing the strategic, long-term planning of utilities and emphasizing the short-term view of nuclear energy opponents, the article ends up championing the limited energy and environmental benefits of continuing to burn fossil fuels for power, like natural gas and other emitting sources. Most of today’s nuclear plants will operate for 60 years, providing long-term, safe, reliable, clean baseload electricity.
But this misstep did not go unnoticed. Nuclear blogger Rod Adams succinctly addresses the many ‘misconceptions’ contained in the article – not the least of which are the challenges our nation will face if we succumb to the historically blind notion that gas will always be inexpensive, and that our nation’s economic future should rely on a single baseload source of domestic energy.
From my perspective in the domestic energy industry, nuclear energy’s value to our country is not only based on building new nuclear power stations, but also includes the ongoing investments in the continued safe and economic operations of existing nuclear energy facilities. As our nation begins building new nuclear facilities to safely power our future, the good news is that we continue to increase the output of clean, safe and reliable electricity from our existing nuclear fleet to satisfy today’s consumer demand – what I like to call the daily renewal of nuclear energy.
New nuclear energy is taking many forms these days, and the Tribune article completely misses this important point. During the past three decades, the 104 existing U.S. nuclear reactors – and tens of thousands of American nuclear professionals – have not sat idle. Our existing fleet ramped up output while maintaining safe and secure operations by continually upgrading technology and capabilities – and those activities continue today. Since 1977, this ongoing daily renewal of nuclear energy added the power equivalent of more than six new nuclear reactors to our nation’s electricity supply.
Nuclear energy is already an important part of our lives—accounting for about 20% of the electricity powering every computer, electric car, and light bulb—and employing thousands of Americans in well-paid careers.
Leading U.S. nuclear energy technology providers, like AREVA, play an ongoing role in the daily nuclear energy renewal, delivering to utility customers project management expertise, technology innovations, and the development of a highly skilled workforce.
Contrary to the article’s conclusion, I see a broader picture of our nation’s energy mix based on a solid nuclear energy foundation. As the only “round-the-clock” source for reliably generating significant amounts of electricity without emitting ozone-forming, or “greenhouse,” gases domestic nuclear power must play an expanding role in the United States’ clean energy policy.
I am steadfast in my belief that the United States nuclear energy industry is second to none, and proud that AREVA helps the industry achieve excellence and renewal every single day to generate safe, affordable electricity for decades to come.
Tags: Mike Rencheck