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Climate Policy: America Invests in Nuclear Energy

Climate Policy: America Invests in Nuclear Energy

The US government is lending more than $1.5 billion to Holdech Power Plant. To achieve this, the defunct nuclear power plant needs to be brought back online.

The Palisades nuclear power plant on the shores of Lake Michigan is about to be brought back online with the help of the US government. Photo: Jim West/ImageBroker/Image

Washington taz | The Biden administration wants to continue investing in nuclear power in the future. Just last week, the U.S. Department of Energy announced a loan of more than $1.5 billion to an operating company to restart a defunct nuclear power plant in Michigan.

This is the first time in US history that a decommissioned nuclear power plant can go back online, provided the plant meets bureaucratic and high safety regulations.

“Nuclear power is the largest source of carbon-neutral electricity, directly employing 100,000 workers and potentially hundreds of thousands more indirectly across the country,” U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a press release.

The nuclear power plant that will be decommissioned in 2022 sits directly on Lake Michigan. The 800 MW power plant is due to be decommissioned after it was decommissioned a few years ago. But now the U-turn.

The effort to restart power generation is part of US President Joe Biden's climate policy. Its government wants to stick to nuclear power to meet ambitious climate goals and meet the country's growing electricity needs.

Like more than 50 other nuclear power plants in the United States, the plant known as Palisades was built in the late 1960s at the height of nuclear power. After the reactor began operating in 1971, the nuclear power plant provided reliable electricity for more than 50 years.

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Gretchen Whitmer, the Democratic governor of the US state of Michigan, was delighted by the announcement of the billion-dollar loan. A successful restart is expected to keep 600 good-paying jobs in the region and provide energy to 800,000 families.

After successful modernization, the reactor is expected to continue providing electricity until 2051. “This is a victory for the United States in our shared quest for a clean and reliable energy future,” said Chris Singh, president of Holdech.

Of course, nuclear power has its opponents in the United States as well. They are particularly critical of high costs, safety risks and nuclear waste disposal. Nevertheless, the U.S. Department of Energy believes that nuclear power will continue to be part of the U.S. energy mix.

In California, the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant will stay online five years longer than originally intended to guarantee the stability of the power grid as it transitions to renewable energy. The government is also supporting the development of mini nuclear power plants, also known as “small modular reactors”. They aim to make the technology safer and more cost-effective. The first commercial small nuclear power plant is about to be built in a small town in Wyoming.

“I think it makes sense to keep nuclear power as an option on the table. I think the United States is trying to achieve that by developing and demonstrating some of these new technologies,” Aditi Verma, a nuclear scientist at the University of Michigan, told DOS in an interview.

It is not yet known when the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) will decide whether to restart the Palisades nuclear power plant.

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