A mix of solar, wind and batteries threatens the future of nuclear power, Stars and Stripes By WILL WADE | Bloomberg September 28, 2019
The natural gas boom is killing America’s nuclear industry. Wind and solar may finish the job…….
Battery prices have plunged 85% from 2010 through 2018, and huge storage plants are planned in California and Arizona. Meanwhile, science is advancing on new technology — including chemical alternatives to lithium-ion systems — with the potential to supply power for 100 hours straight, sun or no sun.
“All signs point to the acceleration of renewable energy that can out-compete nuclear and fossil fuels,” said Jodie Van Horn, director of the Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 campaign, a group seeking a grid powered solely by renewables.
The drive for grids that are 100% emissions-free is being pushed by a growing number of U.S. states citing increasingly aggressive time frames. In July, New York mandated that 70% of the state’s power come from renewables by 2030, and 100% by 2040. Seven other states, including California, have similar mandates, and Virginia’s governor this month announced an executive order calling for 100% clean energy there by 2050. ….
By 2050, BNEF expects renewables to account for 48% of the U.S. power system, paired with multiple types of supplemental, peaking plants that can supply electricity when needed…… Meanwhile, over the same period, nuclear will wane, as high costs force most reactors to just shut down.
The U.S. isn’t the only place where the nuclear industry is struggling. Some nations that rely heavily on the technology, including France and Sweden, are reducing nuclear’s load as old reactors retire, and diversifying into cheaper solar and wind power. ……
The first modular nuclear reactors in the U.S. aren’t set to go into service until 2026, and the salt technologies are still largely in the research stage. At the same time, installed capacity of nuclear in the U.S. is forecast to fall to 6 gigawatts by 2050, down from 101 gigawatts now, according to BloombergNEF.