The outlook for nuclear power across the United States and globally

Vol. 43 No. 4

Tyson Smith is a partner in the Nuclear Energy Practice Group of Winston & Strawn LLP. Tison Campbell is an attorney at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the positions of the NRC.

Nuclear power has long been a key component of the United States’ energy supply; the first commercial nuclear power plant came online in 1958. Nuclear power now provides (and has provided for some time) approximately 20 percent of U.S. electricity generation. The current U.S. fleet of 104 reactors produces more than 800 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity annually. Despite no new plant orders since the late 1970s and only a few new plants coming online in the past few decades, the contribution of nuclear power to the U.S. energy mix has remained relatively stable due to improved reliability and incremental increases in the power output of existing plants (known as “power uprates”). More than 6,000 megawatts of power uprates have been authorized by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) since 1977—the equivalent of adding another five to six nuclear reactors to the grid. Nuclear power also is far and away the largest clean-air energy source, producing nearly 70 percent of America’s clean-air electricity.

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