LONDON, July 30 Nuclear power has become hard to
justify as the shale gas revolution creates an abundance of
natural gas that makes it the fuel of choice to back up
renewables, the chief executive of General Electric told
the Financial Times on Monday.
A sharp rise in shale gas production in North America in the
past five years has pulled U.S. natural gas prices down close to
10-year lows and could turn the country into a gas exporter
Large conventional offshore gas findings in Europe and
Africa in the past two years, vast existing reserves in Russia
and Central Asia and increasing production in Australia also
mean gas is abundant elsewhere as well.
At the same time, nuclear power has come under pressure
following the meltdown at Japan's Fukushima reactor during the
March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, with countries such as
Germany and Switzerland pulling out of nuclear power generation.
"They're finding more gas all the time. It's just hard to
justify nuclear. Gas is so cheap and at some point, economics
rule," the newspaper quoted GE CEO Jeff Immelt as saying in an
interview on Monday.
GE is one of the world's leading power generation
engineering companies and, together with Japan's Hitachi
, is also active in designing and building nuclear
"It's really a gas and wind world today," said Immelt,
referring to two sources of electricity he said most countries
were shifting towards as natural gas became "permanently cheap".
Solar and wind power, aided by component price drops and
government subsidies, have made renewable power more competitive
during the higher priced peak demand hours (usually 0800 to 2000
Immelt said that because GE was active in all forms of power
generation, such a shift in production trends would have a
limited impact on the company.
"We've got them all, so in some ways when you have them all
you don't have to be so smart about anything," he said.