Thomas Robinson | January 5th, 2021
The Duane Arnold Energy Center (DAEC) near Palo, IA was decommissioned in August after incurring damage from the Derecho which decreases the amount of clean energy in Iowa.
The DAEC began commercial operation in February 1975 and served Iowa for 45 years before plans to decommission the plant in October, 2020 were sped up after the cooling towers were damaged by the Derecho. Plans for the decommission will have all nuclear fuel in dry storage by 2023, and all building structures removed by 2080 once radioactivity has decreased.
Approximately 10% of Iowa’s electricity came from the DAEC which means alternative energy sources such as natural gas and coal will be required to cover energy demand until alternative sources such as windmills are installed. Other states, such as Illinois, are facing similar nuclear plant closures but have previously taken steps to prolong the lifespan their of nuclear power plants. Iowa has not taken steps to promote nuclear energy as a tool to combat climate change.
Approximately 20% of all U.S. energy has been reliably provided by nuclear energy since 1990, and nuclear energy has been deemed necessary to achieve global climate goals. Energy produced by nuclear sources is commonly equated with energy produced by fossil fuels, however, they are not the same as carbon emissions are generally ignored in these types of comparisons. Nuclear energy can be used to aid the transition from fossil fuels to cleaner sources of energy, but to meet our goals current nuclear capabilities must be increased.