LONDON, Sept 4 The United States needs to start
generating more of its power from nuclear energy, but will still
have to rely on coal and oil for the foreseeable future, the
U.S. Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy said on Thursday.
Dennis Spurgeon told a nuclear energy industry conference in
London that the era of cheap oil was over and action was needed
to tackle an "energy crisis" facing the United States.
The country was "on the cusp of a transformation" in the way
it produces energy and the time to start reducing its dependence
on fossil fuels was coming, Spurgeon told the opening session of
the World Nuclear Association's annual symposium.
Spurgeon said there was no country more addicted to the use
of fossil fuels than the U.S., and Washington had been "somewhat
slow" to react to the need for change.
The U.S. Government had hesitated to talk about a
renaissance of nuclear power in the United States until
construction of new nuclear plants was under way.
"I have confidence that that day may not be too far off,"
Spurgeon said the U.S. need to generate energy from low
carbon sources was rising in the face of increases in fossil
fuel costs, global warming and the need to avoid becoming
dependent on single energy sources.
He said the United States would need to build nine new
nuclear plants a year from 2016 to generate 50 percent of its
power from nuclear by 2035.
"That's possible if adequate capital is available," he said.
Washington would take a principled approach and recognised that
new nuclear plants could not be built without government support
and substantial legislation.
Spurgeon said, however, that it would be unrealistic to
expect that electricity generated from such sources would be
able completely to replace the use of fossil fuels.
"We will need to rely on coal and oil resources for as far
as the eye can see," he said.
(Reporting by Philip Waller; editing by James Jukwey)