Nuclear Energy Vital to COP21 Climate Goals

Nov 24, 2015, 09:37 ET from Nuclear Energy Institute

WASHINGTON, Nov. 24, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- For negotiators at the Paris climate conference (COP21) to successfully advance global efforts to reduce carbon emissions, nations must embrace a prominent role for nuclear energy.

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The Obama administration highlighted the crucial role of nuclear energy when it convened a White House Summit on Nuclear Energy earlier this month. "As America leads the global transition to a low-carbon economy, the continued development of new and advanced nuclear technologies along with support for currently operating nuclear power plants is an important component of our clean energy strategy," a White House fact sheet developed for the summit states. Many environmentalists are also giving nuclear energy a second look, as they seek practical solutions to constrain carbon emissions.

Nuclear energy facilities provide 63 percent of America's zero-carbon electricity. Globally, nuclear power plants provide one-third of all zero-carbon electricity. One of nuclear energy's major advantages relative to other low-carbon energy sources is its unique ability to produce large-scale electricity around-the-clock in extreme weather conditions. Nuclear energy facilities don't rely on the wind blowing, the sun shining, or just-in-time deliveries of fuel by truck, barge, rail or pipeline. In 2014, the U.S. nuclear energy industry's average capacity factor—a common measure of efficiency and reliability—was 92 percent.

"Nuclear energy can produce a steady supply of baseload electricity with no greenhouse gas emissions thereby allowing the world to meet increased electricity demand, achieve economic development goals and carbon reductions," says Marvin Fertel, NEI president and CEO. "It's a positive sign that more than 200 reactors are under construction or in licensing and advanced planning stages worldwide."

The United States has five reactors under construction, which are essential for it to meet its national carbon reduction plan submitted to COP21 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.

"Keeping existing nuclear plants operating and building new reactors are indispensable components to meeting the targets set at the COP21 conference," Fertel says.

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