Are 100 New Nuclear Plants the Answer?

Some in Congress are calling for a massive U.S. effort to build 100 new nuclear power plants in an attempt to move the country toward energy independence and significant GHG emissions reductions.

Are 100 New Nuclear Plants the Answer?

The proof is in the data. There’s simply no comparison. Whereas the 100 nuclear power plants only act as a replacement energy source, the updated building energy codes of Section 201 actually reduce energy consumption, eliminating the need for more plants. The codes also achieve more than six times the emissions reductions as 100 nuclear power plants. The codes accomplish all of this at a fraction of the cost. Here are the facts:

  • Since June 2006, over 60,000 new homes have been designed, built, and certified to meet a minimum 50% energy reduction below the baseline energy code for heating and cooling. 
  • Studies by the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) illustrate that meeting a 30% residential energy consumption reduction target below code will save households in every region of the U.S. between $403 and $612 per year after the cost of efficiency measures is factored in.
  • At current energy prices and mortgage interest rates, NREL estimates that the average cost-neutral point for home efficiency upgrades is a 45% energy reduction below code.

The targets in Section 201 are set at a reasonable and beneficial pace for change that will achieve the reductions necessary within the timeline called for by the scientific community. Implementing these targets will reduce building sector energy consumption by:

  • 18.35 Quadrillion Btus from projected 2030 levels (the equivalent of approximately two hundred and forty 1000 MW power plants), saving consumers an estimated $218 billion in annual energy bills (2007 dollars),
  • 18.7% below 2005 levels by 2030, and
  • 40.4% below 2005 levels by 2050.

Implementing the targets in Sec. 201 would also reduce building sector CO2 emissions by:

  • 20.3% below 2005 levels by 2030 and
  • 48.8% below 2005 levels by 2050, leaving only 34% of President Obama’s 83% Building Sector reduction target to be accomplished with other clean energy sources.

It is clear that the building energy code targets set in Section 201 are not only essential for achieving the energy consumption and GHG emissions reductions needed, but that they also are the most cost effective approach for doing so.

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