As Nuclear Plants Close, Carbon Emissions Expected to Rise

U.S. carbon emissions are expected to rise in the coming years as several nuclear plants are set to close, and carbon-emitting natural gas and coal plants are expected to take their place.

To date, seven nuclear plants (encompassing nine nuclear reactors) are scheduled to close between 2016 and 2025. The majority of these plants are closing in competitive wholesale energy markets against record low natural gas prices.

resized nuclear RK

Total carbon emission increases as a result of the expected seven nuclear plant closures could range from approximately 30 million to 46 million metric tons, according to analysis compiled for Bloomberg BNA by Energy Venture Analysis Inc. and the Energy Information Administration, respectively. 

These closing nuclear plants would affect how states meet their emission reduction targets in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan.

They would have even larger implications on how the U.S.’s pledge to reduce emissions by 26 percent to 28 percent by 2025, as part of the Paris climate agreement, analysts and climate change experts told me in my special report As U.S. Nuclear Plants Close, Carbon Emissions Could Go Up.