MIT just updated its seminal 2003 study on the role nuclear power could play in America’s energy mix. The upshot: Nuclear power’s appeal may have grown due to concern over greenhouse-gas emissions, but that hasn’t translated into any real progress in the U.S.
“The sober warning is that if more is not done, nuclear power will diminish as a practical and timely option for deployment at a scale that would constitute a material contribution to climate change risk mitigation,” the study concludes.
In 2003, MIT argued that nuclear power could play an important role in U.S. electricity generation, and that government help was needed to jumpstart a U.S. revival. That has yet to happen yet, the revised study notes.
Many of the challenges facing nuclear power are the same. Take economics. Building nuclear plants is still a lot more expensive than building coal- or gas-fired plants, and nuclear-generated electricity is still more expensive than either fossil-fuel option: 8.8 cents a kilowatt for nuclear versus 6.2 cents for coal and 6.5 cents for gas, MIT figures.
There are two ways around that cost gap