A research study recently published in Energy Policy suggests that power plant retirement activities actually hinder the ability of electric utilities to achieve their long-term carbon dioxide emission reduction targets. Why? Because the cost to retire an aging power plant, plus the cost to replace the capacity, prevents electric utilities from investing in clean energy projects.
Nuclear Power Plant Retirement
The average power plant in operation is a whopping 28 years old, which means that an increasing percentage of them will need to be retired over the next few decades. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that the US nuclear industry is rapidly disintegrating – most old nukes will be decommissioned by 2030. Click here for a great article that contains additional stats and perspectives on this issue.
This is extremely troublesome from an emergency planning perspective – it’s a double whammy of less funds available for clean power investment to combat climate change, and an increasingly unstable and unreliable electricity supply. This means that outages are almost destined to become more and more frequent and severe as time goes on.
As an emergency preparedness professional, there is not much I can do about this power plant retirement situation, other than continue to bang the drum for planning. Now more than ever before, if your company is not actively reviewing emergency plans, policies and protocols, and not conducting at least one emergency exercise or drill each and every year, your level of preparedness is inadequate. The time to act is now, before things get really bad.