These nuclear plant outages are generally due to equipment problems. As aging plants are taken offline or closed, where will the replacement power come from? ? New coal or nuclear plants face huge regulatory hurdles as well as almost certain sustained protests and thus probably will never be built. That leaves natural gas as the primary source of baseload power for new plants. But new plants can take years to build. Renewable energy faces similar regulatory and NIMBY hurdles and, let’s face, is not yet capable of churning out steady amounts of power on a massive basis.
In 2012, four nuclear plants accounted for more than four gigawatts of capacity in extended outages. All of these outages continued into 2013, and at least one plant will be retired without ever returning to service.
Coal plants will also be shutting down because they can’t meet new environmental standards. Where will the replacement power come from?