United States – The US could bring back some of its nuclear reactors that were decommissioned recently or add more reactors to generating stations where they already exist, Granholm said in an interview.

Currently, the nuclear industry has regarded by the administration of President Joe Biden as important in achieving ambitious goals of reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and decarbonizing the economy by 2050 to combat climate change, yet the construction activity base is expensive, as reported by Reuters.

Some shut nuclear plants have the ability to return to operation, Granholm said in an interview on Tuesday evening.

Potential Revival of Nuclear Plants

In March, the DOE’s LPO provided a USD 1.52 billion possible loan to Holtec International for the revival of Palisades nuclear power plant in Michigan which could be the first power plant to resume operations after being closed. Lasting until 2022 it will require approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, an organization responsible for the monitoring of the nuclear power plant safety.

Granholm stated that she would not be astonished if the LPO were not in contact with the operators of other closed plants across the country to know the plans for reopening them. She said that she never discussed any, nor is she affiliated with LPO’s discussions.

Basic to this is the fact that the LPO does not disclose the standing of loan requests.

Economic Considerations and New Constructions

Specifically, around a dozen of the reactors in the United States have shut down since 2013, because of competition from natural gas fired power and pressure on safety cost. Some listed organisations are already too deep into implementing the concept of decommissioning that they cannot turn back.

Granholm also emphasized that there were also ways to scale up nuclear energy capacity of the U. S. in quite an economical manner which entails construction of new reactors at nuclear power plants. She said currently there is thirty power plant sites across the U… S that have either been licensed or permitted to put up more reactors.

“So you don’t have to go through the whole rigamarole again, you can just use the existing footprint to be able to increase generation capacity,” she said.

Industry Insights

Joseph Dominguez, the CEO of Constellation Energy (CEG. O) the most nuclear power generation in the United States stated during an earnings call last month that other opportunities include restarting its Three Mile Island Unit 1 reactor in Pennsylvania after Palisades LPO loan.

The unit which is independent of another at Three Mile Island that experienced a partial nuclear meltdown in 1979, shut down in late 2019.

Constellation has not yet been reached for comment on this article.

A nuclear power is expensive and takes a long time to commission new reactors unlike wind/solar farms with battery storage and comes with a major drawback of nuclear waste which is extremely long lasting.

Challenges and Future Prospects

To power over 1 million homes, two additional reactors in Vogtle, Georgia, opened in 2023 and 2024, years behind schedule and billions of dollars beyond budget, with part of the costs on consumers, as reported by Reuters.

There are currently no new nuclear reactors being built in the United States.

To illustrate this, Granholm noted that the second new Vogtle reactor was mere 30 percent cheaper than the first because of lessons learnt.

She also stated some of firms rely heavily on electricity could be willing to pay a ‘green premium’ for nuclear power because the reactors do not emit, virtually , pollution and are regarded as reliable power source.