"Nuclear Energy - Potential to Substantially Impact California's Energy Use"

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The use of nuclear power to generate electricity is very widespread today, with about 20% of all U.S. electricity coming from the nation's 103 operating reactors. Worldwide there are over 400 commercial nuclear plants that make a similar contribution percentage-wise. However, all of the current U.S. reactors and most of those elsewhere are relatively old, with no new ones having been started domestically in over two decades and only a few now being built overseas, mostly in Asia. The principal reason for this hiatus in the U.S. is that the cost of electricity from new nuclear plants has been non-competitive ... continued below

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PDF-file: 9 pages; size: 0.3 Mbytes

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Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National March 1, 2006.

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The use of nuclear power to generate electricity is very widespread today, with about 20% of all U.S. electricity coming from the nation's 103 operating reactors. Worldwide there are over 400 commercial nuclear plants that make a similar contribution percentage-wise. However, all of the current U.S. reactors and most of those elsewhere are relatively old, with no new ones having been started domestically in over two decades and only a few now being built overseas, mostly in Asia. The principal reason for this hiatus in the U.S. is that the cost of electricity from new nuclear plants has been non-competitive with other electricity sources for a long time. The U.S. nuclear-power industry has not been stagnant during this time, however. First, the existing plants themselves are running significantly better than they were twenty years ago, to the extent that the US. reactor fleet is producing about one-third more electricity annually than it was, due largely to improvements in the capacity factors: the plants run more reliably, shut down less often, and the refueling outages take less than half as long as they once did. The safety performance has also improved dramatically, with major improvements in every one of the main indicators of safety. The security of the plants against sabotage or other malevolent acts has always been very strong, and is stronger still after recent upgrades in response to the September 2001 attacks in New York and Washington. Thus the U.S. nuclear-electricity industry has remained dynamic despite the absence of new construction. The U.S. and foreign companies that design reactors and hope someday to sell more of them have also been actively at work--they have developed advanced reactor designs that promise to cost much less to build and to operate, and to have even better safety performance. Several of these advanced designs have received design-certification approvals from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, meaning that a utility could order one of these certified designs today with confidence that the NRC approval of that design is already in place. These new reactor designs are advanced versions of the existing reactors: broadly similar in their design concept but incorporating important new safety and reliability features and cost-saving features. The term ''evolutionary'' is used to describe these designs, in contrast to several advanced reactor designs whose engineering concepts are very different.

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PDF-file: 9 pages; size: 0.3 Mbytes

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  • Report No.: UCRL-TR-220135
  • Grant Number: W-7405-ENG-48
  • DOI: 10.2172/889963 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 889963
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc884516

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Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports

Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) is the Department of Energy (DOE) office that collects, preserves, and disseminates DOE-sponsored research and development (R&D) results that are the outcomes of R&D projects or other funded activities at DOE labs and facilities nationwide and grantees at universities and other institutions.

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  • March 1, 2006

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Sept. 21, 2016, 2:29 a.m.

Description Last Updated

  • Dec. 9, 2016, 9:35 p.m.

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Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National. "Nuclear Energy - Potential to Substantially Impact California's Energy Use", report, March 1, 2006; Livermore, California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc884516/: accessed January 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.