The availability of cheap natural gas in the United States has stalled the construction of new nuclear plants. While four new nuclear plants are under construction in the US, many of the proposed 15 – 20 new plants were put on “hold” pending either an increase in electricity demand or increase in the price of natural gas. However, nuclear remains the largest source of emissions-free power in the U.S. at 19% of total electricity generation.
The question posed for this dialogue is whether there is a justifiable reason to build new nuclear plants to provide base load power, despite the price differential, to help reduce emissions from fossil fuels (gas, oil and coal).
Should there be an environmental subsidy provided for nuclear energy similar to that for renewables to encourage new nuclear construction? Is the dominance of natural gas in new electric generating plants a sound energy policy and what should policymakers do to encourage new nuclear construction?