Low Carbon, not Always Low Cost
Michael Haggarty is an Associate Managing Director in the Infrastructure Finance Group at Moody's Investors Service. He is responsible for a portfolio of electric utilities, including those with nuclear power assets. Haggarty holds a B.S. in Foreign Service from Georgetown University and an M.B.A. in finance from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Consider the current U.S. low power price environment as the country shifts away from coal and toward cleaner energy sources to reduce carbon emissions. What are the prospects that nuclear energy will continue to play a role in the U.S. power mix? That's the question that Michael Haggarty addressed in a recent report on global nuclear power generation.
Here, PUF addresses some key questions arising from this report, which is available at Moodys.com.
How much does nuclear energy currently contribute to the U.S. power supply, and where do you see it going from here?
Nuclear power accounted for about nineteen and a half percent of U.S. electric power generation in 2015, which is about where it has been over the last few years. But we expect a gradual decline in market share as nuclear plant retirements are outpacing new nuclear plant construction.
The closures are due to a variety of factors, including low natural gas prices that have driven down power prices, as well as increasing competition from wind and solar energy. In 2013 and 2014, four U.S. nuclear plants closed, representing about four percent of the nation's total nuclear capacity. Between now and the end of 2019, several more plants are scheduled to close, representing another five percent of total capacity.