Nuclear represents half of electricity emissions cuts

15 January 2007

Some 54% of voluntary emissions reductions in the US electricity sector during 2004 came from operational improvements at nuclear power plants, according to a report submitted to the Energy Information Administration.

The author of the report was Power Partners, a government-industry initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Among its conclusions was that nuclear power accounted for 54% of voluntary greenhouse gas reductions reported by project type. The emissions saving amounted to 142 million tonnes of greenhouse gases.

Although up to 27 new reactors are being planned by utilities for construction in the next decade, the last time a nuclear plant was ordered in the USA was in 1978. The emissions savings attributed to nuclear power plants came from technical upgrades and improvements in operational efficiency that have allowed plants to generate 16% more power - the equivalent of 14 new 1000 MWe reactors. The average load factor across the US fleet of 103 power reactors has been around 90% since 2000, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute.

  • 54%: Improvements and increased generation at nuclear plants
  • 13%: Improvements to fossil plants
  • 13%: Methane recovery, forestry, flyash reuse and recycling
  • 11%: Energy efficiency
  •  6%: Renewable energy
  •  3%: Others *
* Includes improvements to transmission and distribution system, transport and off-road vehicles, and halogenated substances. Source: EIA Voluntary reporting of greenhouse gases program

Electricity sector reductions accounted for 63% of the USA's overall cut of 445 million tonnes of greenhouse gases.

Further information

Power Partners
Nuclear Energy Institute
Energy Information Administration

WNA's US Nuclear Power Industry information paper