Record performance by US nuclear power industry in 2007

07 February 2008

The USA's nuclear power plants generated a record amount of electricity in 2007 while operating at record capacity factors, according to preliminary data from the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI).


The country's 104 operating nuclear power reactors generated some 807 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity in 2007, exceeding the previous record-high of 788.5 billion kWh set in 2004. Output from nuclear plants in 2007 was boosted by the restart in May of Tennessee Valley Authority's (TVA's) 1155 MWe Browns Ferry 1 reactor in Tennessee. In addition, the industry implemented power uprates at two reactors: a 55 MWe increase at TVA's Browns Ferry 1 and a 13.7 MWe increase at Progress Energy's Crystal River 3 unit in Florida.


 "The accomplishments
  of the nation's nuclear
  power plants in 2007
  are the equal of a
  baseball player 
  winning the triple
The NEI said preliminary figures showed that the average capacity factor of the USA's nuclear power reactors in 2007 was 91.8%, up from the previous record of 90.1%, which was set in 2004. The capacity factor is the ratio of electricity actually produced compared with the theoretical maximum electricity a reactor can produce operating at full power throughout the year.


The average production cost - covering expenses for nuclear fuel supply, operations and maintenance - was a record low in 2007 at 1.68 cents/kWh. The previous low of 1.72 cents/kWh was set in 2005. The NEI said that 2007 marked the seventh straight year that nuclear plants have had the lowest production costs of any major source of electricity, including coal- and natural gas-fired power plants.


Skip Bowman, president and CEO of the NEI, said: "The accomplishments of the nation's nuclear power plants in 2007 are the equal of a baseball player winning the triple crown." He added, "At a time when consumers are confronted with rising oil and gas prices and an increased reliance on foreign energy sources, nuclear energy provides reliable, affordable and clean electricity. Nuclear energy emits no greenhouse gases during the production of electricity, and it is available today to meet rising electricity demand and fight global warming."


"The 2007 performance reflects our industry's commitment to safety and operating excellence. These levels of electricity production and efficiency could not and would not be sustained if our facilities were not operating at superior levels of safety. The dedicated people who work in all segments of our industry are to be commended," Bowman said.


Bowman said the industry's 2007 performance further buttressed arguments for America to increase its use of nuclear energy to help achieve energy independence and strengthen US energy security. He said, "The case for building a new generation of advanced-design nuclear plants to help meet our nation's future energy needs is a powerful one."