Third Way / by Samuel Brinton and Josh Freed
[Yale Environment 360] If U.S. nuclear power plants are retired early or phased out completely, greenhouse gas emissions could revert back to 2005 levels and undermine nearly all progress the power sector has made over the last decade in lowering carbon emissions, according to an analysis by the Washington, D.C.-based think tank Third Way. The group found that retired nuclear plants would predominantly be replaced with natural gas power plants, not renewable energy sources, because renewables would not be able to keep pace with lost nuclear capacity. In fact, retiring any of the nation’s 99 nuclear power plants would make it extremely difficult to meet the EPA Clean Power Plan’s emissions reductions targets of a 32 percent cut below 2005 levels, the group found. Nuclear power currently provides 20 percent of U.S. electricity and 63 percent of its emissions-free power.