Despite an epically bad week for nuclear power, with Toshiba scuttling its U.S.-based Westinghouse unit into bankruptcy rather than being dragged down with it, a Bloomberg editorial is pointing to climate change as a case for keeping reactors running.
Bloomberg—one of the most attentive of major financial media to the persuasive economics of renewable energy and the dangers of climate change—argues that “public subsidies that benefit the nuclear industry are justified” by their contribution to lowering the United States’ greenhouse gas emissions.
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“Last week’s bankruptcy of Westinghouse Electric Co. is yet more evidence, if anyone needed any, that the economics of nuclear power are not good,” Bloomberg concedes. “Like coal, nuclear energy can’t compete against cheap natural gas and ever-cheaper renewables. Unlike coal, however, nuclear energy is a crucial tool in the fight against climate change.”
“There are 99 reactors in the U.S., and nuclear still provides one-fifth of America’s electric power,” the editorial reasons. “When nuclear plants close, their output is largely replaced with coal and natural gas. That’s a backward step, not only for climate, but also for public health.”
Until the United States enacts a carbon tax, or new “smaller, cheaper reactors are perfected”—or not—“climate change is happening now, and nuclear has already proved to be a reliable source of clean power,” Bloomberg’s editors conclude. It’s only prudent for the government to support the latter as a way of fighting the former.”