Nuclear Energy: The Key to Achieving Climate Change Goals

December 06, 2021

Despite the global attention being paid to combatting climate change, nuclear energy is often ignored in the discussion about how to reduce carbon emissions, but as a reliable, low-carbon energy source, nuclear power is poised to play a very real part in achieving net zero emissions in the United States. Morgan Lewis lawyers discuss some of the key advantages of including nuclear power in the future US energy portfolio.

  • Nuclear power is carbon free.
  • Although the current generation of operating nuclear plants in the United States required a large amount of up-front capital for construction, smaller and advanced nuclear reactors will require only a fraction of those capital construction costs.
  • Nuclear companies are pursuing nuclear storage innovations that will allow them to make their baseload-generating facilities more able to adjust to fluctuations in power demand.
  • Nuclear energy is a promising source of power for data centers and bitcoin mining, which are highly energy intensive and big carbon emitters. Data centers are users of local electric grids in the United States and maintain very large back-up generators to prevent any downtime during an electricity interruption. Nuclear energy could provide an emissions-free form of the steady, reliable energy needed by these data centers.
  • Existing and advanced nuclear is well suited for hydrogen production because large amounts of electricity are required for electrolysis (splitting water to generate hydrogen), which nuclear can provide without interruption. Nuclear plants are sited near large bodies of water to supply the amount of water needed for large-scale hydrogen production. Because of the large generating capacity of nuclear plants, they may be able to produce hydrogen more cheaply than that produced from electricity generated by renewables alone.

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