Survey of Energy Resources 2007
Nuclear Country Notes
United States of America
At the end of 2005, there were 104 nuclear reactor units connected to the grid, with an aggregate net generating capacity of 99 988 MWe (equivalent to about 27% of total world nuclear capacity). The totals include Brown's Ferry-1 (1 065 MWe), which has been shutdown since March 1985 but is still fully licensed to operate. Nuclear plants accounted for 19.3% of US electricity output in 2005.
The US WEC Member Committee reports that national energy policy presently favours the construction of new nuclear plants. The US Department of Energy program Nuclear Power 2010 (NP2010) is designed to encourage the initiation of new nuclear power construction by 2010. Programs under NP2010 include co-funding of the initial construction licensing cost for two nuclear reactors, including some first-of-a-kind engineering expenses. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 also provided incentives for initial nuclear power, including production tax credits, loan guarantees, and 'standby' protection to cover some regulatory delays. Licensing procedures at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission have also been modified to facilitate the process of licensing and to limit the opportunities for intervention after construction has been licensed.
Recent times have witnessed a number of applications for nuclear construction licences and a spate of applications for the renewal of operating licences for existing reactors and, in many cases, for extensions of such licences by up to 20 years. By March 2007, the total number of licence renewals granted for US reactors stood at 48.
In a novel link between the nuclear industry and the renewables sector, a proposed new NPP near Bruneau, Idaho, envisages the co-generation of ethanol based on the supply of surplus heat from the NPP to a plant processing locally-produced grain.