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CCST Annual Report
NUCLEAR POWER
 
Nuclear Power

California's Energy Future - Powering California with Nuclear Energy was produced as input to the CCST report, California's Energy Future. The nuclear power report estimates that roughly 30 new nuclear power plants could provide two-thirds of California's electric power in 2050. Powering California with Nuclear Energy looks at a highly charged issue from a range of perspectives, from realistic to extreme scenarios. Population growth and energy demand will eventually force a decision on California's energy strategy, especially with the requirement for drastic reduction in emissions.

California's law requires at least 33% of electricity generation be provided with renewable energy. However, while clean, many renewable energy sources produce power intermittently: if there's no sunlight and no wind, there's no power. However, a constant base output of nuclear power could make it much easier to deal with the highly variable power levels from renewable sources.

In exploring nuclear power, the new report makes an assumption that any large-scale growth in nuclear energy in California will reflect large-scale nuclear growth worldwide, which is expected to reduce construction costs. The report points out that there are no technical barriers to largescale deployment of nuclear power in California. There are, however, legislative barriers and public acceptance barriers that have to be overcome to implement a scenario that includes a large number of new nuclear reactors.

The report clearly acknowledges current, well-known hurdles to any expansion in nuclear energy production. Spent fuel storage and safety in light of tsunami and earthquake damage to Japanese plants last winter in Fukushima are outlined, along with a brief discussion of global weapons proliferation. One section of "Powering California with Nuclear Energy" encapsulates point by point what must happen on a state and national level to make a large expansion of nuclear power practical.

An expansion of nuclear power will require loan guarantees and progress toward a resolution to waste disposal, the subject of a soon-to-be-released federal Blue Ribbon Commission interim report. Other points look ahead to 2020, when current California regulations demand that 33% of electricity generation come from renewable sources, and other new generation is limited to lowcarbon sources.

The report notes that the Department of Energy needs to develop a longterm strategic plan for nuclear research that would lead to safer and more efficient reactors that would ease the waste disposal problem. A version of such a plan has been submitted to Congress.