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Things have been looking up for nuclear energy recently, both in the United States and internationally. News broke this week that Britain would be updating its nuclear capacity for the first time in almost two decades with the approval of a new facility in southwest England. South Africa is turning to more nuclear to meet rising demand for electricity, while China is trying out thorium-based nuclear reactors as part of a worldwide push for nuclear technology innovation. Transatomic Power is developing one of the most innovative small modular reactors in the industry. Using an updated molten-salt reactor, Transatomic Power’s reactors promise to be safer and cheaper than nuclear reactors currently in use in the U.S. Last year, the U.S. approved the first new nuclear power plants since the 1970s.
Just as nuclear is getting a new look, a report from Bloomberg suggests that the combination of low-priced natural gas and state-mandated renewable energy – predominantly wind – could be undercutting nuclear power, as well as coal, particularly in off-peak hours. “Low prices are due to a lot of things, mostly shale gas,” said Rob Gramlich of AWEA. “But to some extent wind does reduce power prices and that’s a good thing for homes and businesses.”
In other news, Los Angeles will phase out the transmission of electricity from two coal power plants on the Navajo Reservation and in western Utah. Those coal-fired plants provide 39% of LA’s current electricity. And China may cancel some of its solar subsidies to its largest projects, instead using government funds for smaller solar projects.