U.S. NUCLEAR POWER - 2017
WNA - Nuclear Power in the USA
- The USA is the world's largest producer of nuclear power, accounting for more than 30% of worldwide nuclear generation of electricity.
- The country's 99 nuclear reactors produced 805 billion kWh in 2016, almost 20% of total electrical output. There are two reactors under construction.
- Following a 30-year period in which few new reactors were built, it is expected that two more new units will come online soon after 2020, these resulting from 16 licence applications made since mid-2007 to build 24 new nuclear reactors.
- Government policy changes since the late 1990s have helped pave the way for significant growth in nuclear capacity.
- Some states have liberalized wholesale electricity markets, which makes the financing of capital-intensive power projects difficult, and coupled with lower gas prices since 2009, have put the economic viability of some existing reactors and proposed projects in doubt.
- The first zero-emission credit programs have commenced, in New York and Illinois.
In 2016, the US electricity generation was 4079 TWh (billion kWh) net, 1380 TWh (34%) of it from gas, 1240 TWh (30%) from coal-fired plant, 805 TWh (19.7%) nuclear, 266 TWh from hydro, 226 TWh from wind, and 117 TWh from other renewables (EIA data). Annual electricity demand is projected to increase to 5,000 billion kWh in 2030, though in the short term it is depressed and has not exceeded the 2007 level. Annual per capita electricity consumption in 2013 was 11,955 kWh. Total net summer capacity is 1060 GWe, less than one-tenth of which is nuclear.
Nuclear power plays a major role. The USA has 99 nuclear power reactors in 30 states, operated by 30 different power companies, and in 2016 they produced 805 TWh. Since 2001 these plants have achieved an average capacity factor of over 90%, generating up to 807 TWh per year and accounting for about 20% of total electricity generated. The average capacity factor has risen from 50% in the early 1970s, to 70% in 1991, and it passed 90% in 2002, remaining at around this level since. In 2016 it was a record 92.5%, compared with wind 34.7% (EIA data). The industry invests about $7.5 billion per year in maintenance and upgrades of the plants.
Average nuclear generation costs have come down from $40/MWh in 2012 to $34/MWh in 2016.
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