The closure of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant December 29 underscored the challenges the U.S. industry faces with “a dwindling fleet of aging reactors, few new projects, and the challenge of safely mothballing radioactive fuel for decades,” National Geographic reports.
With all the country’s remaining reactors aging fast, “their owners will have to decide whether the investments needed to keep them running are worth it,” Nunez writes, and “so far, nuclear isn’t winning.”
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Market conditions have shifted in light of the shale boom, even with at least one regional regulator expressing concern about over-dependence on natural gas. And while safety issues in operating older reactors are “addressable,” according to Neil Wilmshurst of the industry-funded Electric Power Research Institute, “the real decision point for the utility becomes the economics of running the plant out to 80 years.”