WASHINGTON—President Dwight Eisenhower’s vision of a thriving international nuclear industry is today a reality, Donald Hintz, chairman of the Nuclear Industry Institute (NEI) and president of Entergy Corporation, said today at the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis’ conference on Nuclear Energy and Science for the 21st Century: Atoms for Peace Plus 50.
“Commercial nuclear applications are invaluable to our daily lives, with thousands of industrial, agricultural and medical applications. But none is more visible than the nuclear energy industry,” Hintz said. “Nuclear energy generates the electricity for one of every five American homes and businesses, and along with coal is the foundation of the U.S. electricity generation mix. Nuclear is safe, economical, reliable, and emission-free.
“Of nuclear energy’s important attributes, the reliability and air quality benefits are of growing importance as we meet the needs of an economy increasingly dependent on an uninterrupted power supply and as we continue to take steps to protect our environment,” Hintz said.
Like President Eisenhower, the Bush Administration and Congress realize the value of nuclear energy to our energy security, national security and environmental protection, Hintz said. There is bipartisan support for the Department of Energy’s “Nuclear Power 2010” program, support for new nuclear power plants, and nuclear energy is included in the President’s hydrogen initiative. “These policy actions are clear indications that the technology championed by President Eisenhower is poised for another half-century of success,” said Hintz.
The U.S. nuclear energy industry is poised for growth due to several factors:
Record electricity production for the fifth straight year, 780 billion kilowatt-hours in 2002.
Nuclear plant efficiency has increased dramatically from about 60 percent in 1987 to 92 percent in 2002.
Nuclear energy is the lowest-cost expandable electricity source, with production costs that are lower than coal-fired power plants and about half of the cost of electricity generated using natural gas and oil.
Excellent nuclear plant safety, with an industrial safety record unmatched by any other manufacturing industry in the country.
A recent surge in public support—71 percent of the public says nuclear energy should play an important role in meeting America’s future electricity needs, according to an October survey of U.S. adults by Bisconti Research Inc./RoperASW.[i]
Hintz said a recent Massachusetts Institute of Technology study concluded that “the nuclear option should be retained, precisely because it is an important carbon-free source of power that can potentially make a significant contribution to the future of electricity supply.”
Hintz added that “the ability to generate electricity with nuclear energy will grow even more important, but it may be eclipsed by the potential to produce hydrogen using nuclear technology, leading to a hydrogen economy.”
Entergy Corp. is one of three companies that this month applied to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for permits to site new reactors at existing nuclear plant facilities, one of the preliminary steps toward possibly building advanced-designed reactors. Entergy is pursuing an early site permit at its Grand Gulf nuclear plant in Mississippi. Exelon and Dominion Energy filed similar siting requests with the NRC for nuclear plants in Illinois and Virginia, respectively.
“The nuclear industry’s ambitious Vision 2020 plan will bring 50,000 megawatts of new nuclear capacity—roughly 50 large new plants on line by the end of the second decade of this century,” Hintz said. “The new capacity, along with 10,000 megawatts of increased capacity from current reactors, would merely maintain our current level of emission-free capacity, even if the potential expansion from solar energy, wind and other renewables are factored in,” he said.
“In the next 50 years—and beyond—we have the opportunity to make a boundle ss contribution to the capability of this planet to support a population that will double by mid-century, to sustain that world with its environment and its economy not only intact, but enhanced,” Hintz said.
[i] Bisconti Resarch Inc./Roper ASW survey of 1,000 U.S. adults nationwide, Oct. 3-5, 2003, margin of error ±3 percent. Question: “How important a role should nuclear energy play in meeting America’s future electricity needs. Should nuclear energy play a very important role, a somewhat important role, a not too important role, or not an important role at all?” Results: 64% important, 25% not important, 5% don’t know.
The Nuclear Energy Institute is the nuclear energy industry’s policy organization. This news release and additional information about nuclear energy are available on NEI’s Internet site at http://www.nei.org.