Proposals to Expand Nuclear Energy

Framework in Terms of Potential Climate Benefits Compared With Fossil Fuel-Intensive Electrical Generation

  • The biggest benefit of nuclear power is its outlook as a source of ‘green’ power. Much of this is in contrast to the large-scale electrical generation in the US that accounts for 1/3 of all greenhouse gas emissions. (p.654)
  • Specifically, low-carbon sources of energy are in dire need in order to replace coal-fired power plants. (p.654)
  • Fossil fuels account for 86% of total energy use and 71% of electricity generation. Nuclear energy accounts for 8% of overall energy, and renewable sources of energy such as wind, solar, and geothermal together account for 6%. (p.654)
  • The US currently has 103 nuclear reactors but hasn’t had any new orders in place since 1978. The newest nuclear reactor in the US is called the Tennessee Valley Authority Watts Bar 1, and it was ordered in 1970 but didn’t come to use until 1996. (p.654)
  • At this rate, without any new nuclear reactors, many of the 103 nuclear reactors will cease to operate after their roughly 60 year life-span, in the year 2030. The last nuclear operator will end in 2056. (p.654)
  • As stated earlier, the lifespan is roughly 60 years, but that is if the initial 40 year operating license that most nuclear plants have, reapply for a 20-year license renewal. (p.654)

Resources:

Vanderheiden, Steve. “Confronting Risks: Regulatory Responsibility and Nuclear Energy.” Environmental Politics 20.5 (2011): 650-67. Print.

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