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Nuclear power in the U.S. - statistics & facts

The utilization of nuclear reactions for electricity generation was first commercialized in the 1970s. Since then, the United States has become the largest consumer of nuclear power in the world. The shares of electricity generation from nuclear power in the U.S. stands at around 20 percent. Nuclear plants generally run all day, with the exception of maintenance or refueling periods, and thus, act as baseload generators. In comparison to other fuels, the generation capacity of nuclear is dispatched at much higher rates.

The number of U.S. nuclear-fired power plants reached a maximum in 1987. Currently, there are 93 nuclear power reactors in 29 different U.S. states, of which there are 57 commercially operating nuclear plants. Of these reactors, all except one is more than 20 years old and almost 50 plants are over 40 years old. Many of these plants will require a license renewal before 2050 to continue operations. Currently, the vast majority of these plans are covered for 60 years under the original 40-year license and 20-year license extension. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) predicts that new capacity additions will be minimal. In June 2016, the second reactor at Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) Watts Bar nuclear plant went online and is considered the newest nuclear reactor in the country. The project began in 1973 and is the first new nuclear reactor to come online in about two decades. Construction on this power plant has been rife with public safety concerns, changes in regulations and energy demand, and ever-increasing construction costs.

The production costs of nuclear energy have decreased since the 2012 peak, falling to 30.41 U.S. dollars per megawatt hour. The cost and interest in extending the life of nuclear plants past their 60-year licenses is largely unknown. New regulations and technological developments may arise to either encourage or discourage the use of nuclear energy in the future.

Interesting statistics

In the following 5 chapters, you will quickly find the 22 most important statistics relating to "Nuclear power in the U.S.".


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