The Nuclear Power Dilemma

More than one-third of the United States’ nuclear power fleet—21 of 60 facilities that provide low-carbon electricity—will be or could be shuttered in the next decade before their operating licenses expire and replaced primarily by natural gas and coal, according to an analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists that assessed the economic viability of the U.S. nuclear power industry.

Cheap natural gas and renewable energy, diminished demand, rising operational costs, and safety and performance problems are all threatening the profitability of nuclear power plants and increasing the likelihood that reactors might close.

Their earlier shutdowns will not threaten the reliability of U.S. electricity, but could result in more emissions because zero-emission nuclear power will likely be replaced by fossil fuels such as natural gas and coal, scientists warn. 

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