- MIT and Stanford scientists published a study outlining a method for upgrading California’s Diablo Canyon nuclear power station. Adding revenue streams such as desalinating ocean water and manufacturing clean hydrogen is part of the goal.
- If Diablo Canyon is kept open until 2050, it will save $21 billion in electricity grid expenses and 90,000 acres of land, according to the plan. To satisfy California’s climate targets, this would otherwise have to be covered in photovoltaic solar panels.
- PG&E, the Diablo Canyon nuclear reactor’s owner, informed reporters that while it is aware of the MIT and Stanford studies, it will not alter its decision to close the plant. However, the report’s authors believe that the plant could be sold to another utility firm.
Profits from the plan
A 113-page paper by scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University outlines strategies to upgrade California’s Diablo Canyon nuclear power station. In August 2025, it is scheduled to be decommissioned and closed.
If Diablo Canyon is left open until 2050, the strategy may save up to $21 billion in power grid expenditures.
Furthermore, keeping the plant running until 2050 will save 90,000 acres of land from being covered in photovoltaic solar panels to satisfy California’s climate targets. Diablo Canyon may also be used as a location for a desalinization facility, which would offer much-needed water to the state, according to the scientists. A plant to create hydrogen for use in clean-energy solutions is also included.
Diablo Canyon’s owner, PG&E, told reporters that it will not alter its decision to decommission and close the plant. However, the report’s authors hope that it will be taken over by another utility.
“There have been many such ownership changes of nuclear power facilities in the United States throughout the years,” said Jacopo Buongiorno, an MIT professor of nuclear science and engineering.
Buongiorno began working on the project in September 2020 alongside Sally Benson, a Stanford University professor of energy resources engineering. Seven academics and one consultant from Lucid Catalyst, renewable energy, and decarbonization strategy firm, are listed as authors in the final study.
Land and Cost Savings
In 2018, California lawmakers enacted two regulations mandating the state to transition to carbon-free energy sources by 2045. Depending on how long the plant remains operational, the carbon-free electricity generated at Diablo Canyon could be worth billions.
Furthermore, replacing Diablo Canyon’s energy with solar panels would necessitate 90,000 acres of land in California.
“The California Public Utilities Commission and the state legislature have accepted the plan to retire Diablo Canyon Power Plant, clearing the state’s status on nuclear energy.” “Our focus remains on safely and reliably operating the plant until the end of its NRC licenses, which expire in 2024 and 2025,” said Suzanne Hosn, a PG&E representative.
“Over the next 10 to 20 years, California will likely pay more for zero-carbon production, firm backup capacity, water, and hydrogen than it would have if Diablo Canyon remained open.”