Colorado needs nuclear to meet ambitious energy goals

Article author: 
Jake Fogleman
Article publisher: 
Complete Colorado
Article date: 
4 June 2022
Article category: 
Colorado News
Article Body: 

Colorado has set the ambitious goal of achieving 100% carbon-free electricity generation by 2040, while simultaneously encouraging the electrification of the state’s transportation, home-heating, and manufacturing sectors to drive down emissions even further.

To have a realistic shot of meeting these goals, the state must depart from its myopic focus on solely intermittent generating sources and instead look to procure clean, baseload electricity.

Fortunately, Colorado need look no further than a new version of familiar technology to do just that.

Americans have enjoyed carbon-free electricity from nuclear fission since 1951, when the first nuclear power plant went online. As it stands today, 20 percent of the country’s total electricity and 52 percent of its clean electricity is supplied by 93 operational nuclear reactors....

Small modular reactors (SMRs) are, as the name suggests, advanced nuclear reactors that generally have a power capacity of less than 300 MW(e) per unit. They can be factory-assembled and transported as a unit for onsite installation, offering time and cost savings on construction.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, SMRs require substantially less initial investment than traditional large scale nuclear plants due to their size and pre-fabrication potential, are more efficient because they can be bundled with multiple units or coupled with other energy sources, are safer to operate, and theoretically produce less waste due to reduced fuel requirements.

Additionally, SMRs can be installed into an existing grid or remotely off-grid, making siting much more flexible than traditional reactors and distributed generating sources like renewables....