Could replacing nuclear with natural gas be bad?
Analysis says retiring nuclear plants could hurt fight against climate change
Replacing nuclear power plants with combined cycle natural gas generators could increase carbon emissions, according to a new study by the Rhodium Group.
The study raises questions about how the Clean Power Plan and competitive wholesale power markets will impact generation sources.
The United States currently gets electricity from a variety of sources: coal, nuclear, natural gas, hydro-power and renewables. That mix is undergoing one of the most profound transformations the industry has seen in the last 50 years.
Three major factors are changing how we generate electricity: cheaper natural gas, government regulations to limit pollution and carbon emissions, and lower-cost wind and solar energy.
Cheaper natural gas has made nuclear energy comparatively expensive, leading some plant operators to retire nuclear plants. Government regulations have led many operators to shut down coal-fired power plants because complying with emission controls would make them unprofitable. Environmentalists oppose damming up big rivers, so there is very little hydroelectric power being added to the grid.