A plant dies, and some ask if nuclear can help the climate


Nuclear power plants provide 60 percent of America’s carbon-free electricity. But efforts to increase that figure were dealt a serious blow this week when two South Carolina utilities elected to abandon two new reactors at V.C. Summer, an existing nuclear power plant about 20 miles northwest of Columbia.

The decision sparked an immediate debate among greens seeking to curb carbon dioxide emissions. Nuclear advocates said it illustrates the need for further government support, arguing that America risks losing not only the workforce and supply chain needed to service a civilian nuclear industry, but also a valuable tool for decarbonizing the power sector.

Others said the project’s cost overruns and construction delays make new nuclear facilities an impractical tool to solve the climate conundrum. V.C. Summer’s projected cost had ballooned from an initial estimate of about $11 billion to more than $20 billion (Energywire, Aug. 1).

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