Architecture 2030 March 29, 2011
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Nuclear Energy: Fact Check 2
Your Questions Answered
On March 22, Architecture 2030 distributed the E-News Bulletin, Nuclear Energy: Fact Check in order to inform critical discussions taking place around nuclear energy in the United States. The response was tremendous, with numerous questions and requests for clarification.
This Special Bulletin aims to answer those questions and bring further clarity to the issue.
1.

For clarification, labels on the following graph, originally titled "energy losses", have been amended to read "electrical energy losses".
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Assumptions: Average U.S. nuclear plant efficiency is calculated at 32.6% (Source: EIA [1][2]), and transmission losses at 6.5% (Source:EIA [3]).
For a definition of Delivered Energy, click here.
2.

The following graph illustrates U.S. Energy Consumption in 2035, as projected by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
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Notes: In 2035, nuclear energy is projected to provide 2.9% of total U.S. delivered energy; 8.0% of total projected U.S. energy consumption is attributed to nuclear energy. (Source: Architecture 2030 & EIA)
In 2035, nuclear energy is projected to provide 15.7% of total U.S. delivered electricity; 19.9% of total U.S. electricity consumption is attributed to nuclear energy (Source: Architecture 2030 & EIA)
3.

The following Additional Facts are from research conducted by Architecture 2030 to address specific questions related to the original Nuclear Energy: Fact Check (2030 E-News Bulletin #28).
  • The mean construction time (construction start date to first date of commercial operation) for the 104 nuclear reactors is 9.3 years. Over forty percent of the reactors (41.35%) had construction periods greater than 10 years, and 7.69% had construction periods over 15 years. The last nuclear reactor to come online (Watts Bar 1 in Tennessee) actually had a construction period of 23 years and almost 7 months. (Source: Architecture 2030 and EIA)
  • The latest application for a new nuclear reactor (June 2009: Turkey Point Units 6 and 7, Homestead, FL) estimates the total project cost between $12.8 billion to $18.7 billion for the two reactors (combined capacity of 2,234 MW). (Source: NRC and EIA)
  • In 2009, nuclear fuel cost 0.57 c/kWh. A nuclear reactor is refueled every 18-24 months (replacing a third of its core) at a cost of $40 million. (Source: NEI)
  • A typical nuclear power plant generates 20 metric tons of used nuclear fuel annually. The U.S. nuclear industry generates a total of 2,300 metric tons of used fuel per year. (Source: NEI)
  • The U.S. currently holds 62,490 metric tons of used nuclear fuel (uranium). Illinois, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina are the states that hold the largest amounts at 7,670, 5,650, and 3,780 metric tons, respectively. (Source: NEI)
  • On March 3, 2010, the U.S. Department of Energy requested to withdraw the license for Yucca Mountain, ending the only U.S. program for a high-level nuclear waste repository. A Blue Ribbon Commission has been established to study alternative options for long-term storage of high-level nuclear waste. (Source: DOE)
  • The capacity factor of nuclear plants in 2009 was 90.5%. (Source: NEI)

Reported by Architecture 2030 Researchers:

Vincent Martinez
Director of Research

Francesca Desmarais
Principal Researcher
For an online version of this Special Bulletin, click here.
For the original Nuclear Energy: Fact Check (2030 E-News Bulletin #28), click here.