Lyons says a major problem is that the market presently has no mechanism to sensibly recognize the value of carbon-free power generation, particularly nuclear power. “When well-run, clean [nuclear] energy sources are forced out of the marketplace due to a combination of reduced demand, low natural gas prices and market structure,” Lyons was quoted as saying by the Greenwire energy-news service, “our markets are providing the wrong signals.”
Lyons here is Peter Lyons, the Department of Energy’s assistant secretary for nuclear energy. He was also an NRC commissioner in his time. So he may be an interested party but also an extremely knowledgeable one.
Lyons said that the DOE studied a scenario where 30 percent of the county’s 100 reactors would be shut down. He said the DOE regards many of the nuclear plant closures currently on the calendar as premature. If those closures were to go ahead as per that scenario, there would be no way to meet our goal of cutting emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.
Lyons also says that there is “no mechanism to sensibly recognize the value of carbon-free power generation…” which may sound like a return to trying for cap-and-trade or a carbon tax.
Forbes writer Michael Krancer gives Lyons a lot of space – he spoke at a Platts conference not long ago – and as always, Lyons is on point. The whole piece is well worth a read. Whereas Murkowski broadens the conversation by warning that overregulating baseload energy – she’s including coal and natural gas in her figuring – Lyons brings back the issue of climate change and carbon emissions. Which is still valid and worth having in the mix. When you take in all the plausible policy goals one might develop with energy these day, nuclear energy, at least as a key element in a diverse portfolio, comes out ahead- way ahead.