Actions Needed to Expand Nuclear Powers Role

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For nuclear to contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the two International Energy Agency (IEA) scenarios considered earlier, 24-32 of the 1,100 MWe nuclear power plants would be needed each year between now and 2050. Since the historical rate of construction for new nuclear power plants is less than this, is it even feasible to achieve this construction rate?

To answer this question, consider the situation in the United States. Figure 4.5 shows actual and projected electricity generation in the United States through 2030 broken down by source [2]. The projections assume that nine new nuclear power plants will be added by 2030, and there will be modest increases in the power produced by existing reactors through a process called power uprates. The EIA projects that electricity generation will increase about 25% by 2030, but that nuclear's share will decline from its current value of 19% to about 17.6%.6 To maintain nuclear's current percentage, given an overall growth in electricity generation, will require construction of an additional nine nuclear reactors for a total

5 Bellafonte Units 1 and 2 were cancelled in 2006 by the owner Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). In August of 2008, TVA notified the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission of its interest in resuming construction on these units.

6 The analysis assumes that all reactors are seeking license renewal to operate for an additional twenty years beyond their original license period.

Electricity Generation in the US by Fuel Type Source US EIA

Electricity Generation in the US by Fuel Type Source US EIA

1990 2000 2010 2020 2030

Fig. 4.5 United States electricity generation by source through 2030 (EIA [1])

of 18 new nuclear reactors by 2030.7 An increase above the EIA's projections would increase nuclear's percentage share, and at the same time decrease the amount of electricity generated by coal, therby reducing the amount of greenhouse gas emitted.

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