17 Jan (NucNet): The impact of extreme weather such as the polar vortex that gripped parts of the US this month would have been far worse without reliable supplies of electricity from sources such as nuclear, the head of the nation’s Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) has said.
NEI president and chief executive officer Marvin Fertel told energy industry leaders yesterday that technology and fuel diversity are vital attributes of a reliable and affordable supply of electricity. But he believes the “tough economics” facing some power generators in merchant markets – including some nuclear energy facilities – threatens these important attributes of America’s electricity supply.
In a speech to the US Energy Association’s 10th annual State of the Energy Industry Forum, Mr Fertel said competitive electricity markets “threaten nuclear energy facilities and could put both reliability and energy diversity at risk”.
The recent cold snap should be an eye-opener for energy policymakers, Mr Fertel said. As temperatures dropped, electricity demand soared, setting winter records for electricity use in some regions. Gas-fired generators vied with home heating for supplies of natural gas, coal piles froze and some power plant equipment failed because of the cold.
While nuclear energy facilities are not immune to cold-weather problems and have provisions to deal with them, the facilities nationwide operated at 95 percent of maximum production around the clock, Mr Fertel said.