Friday, May 12, 2017

EIA: U.S. Nuclear Power Capacity Expected To Decline As Existing Generators Retire

The U.S. Energy Information Administration Friday reported that its 2017 Annual Energy Outlook assumes that about 25 percent of the nuclear capacity now operating that does not have announced retirement plans will be removed from service by 2050.
Nuclear power currently accounts for about 20 percent of electricity generation in the United States and 35 percent in Pennsylvania.
Nearly all nuclear plants now in use began operation between 1970 and 1990. These plants would require a subsequent license renewal before 2050 to operate beyond the 60-year period covered by their original 40-year operating license and the 20-year license extension that nearly 90 percent of plants currently operating have either already received or have applied for.
The projections do not envision a large amount of new nuclear capacity additions. By 2050, only four reactors currently under construction and some uprates at existing plants are projected to come online.
Except during maintenance or refueling cycles, nuclear plants operate around the clock as baseload generators, meaning nuclear plants make up a disproportionately large share of generation compared with their share of electricity generating capacity.
Generating capacity using other fuels is typically dispatched at much lower rates than nuclear units.
As more nuclear capacity is retired than built, and as other fuels such as natural gas and renewables gain market share, the nuclear share of the U.S. electricity generation mix declines from 20 percent in 2016 to 11 percent in 2050 in EIA’s Reference case projections.
When the assumptions were finalized in late 2016, nuclear plant operators had announced intentions to retire five facilities between 2017 and 2026: Quad Cities Units 1 and 2 in 2017, Clinton Unit 1 in 2018, Pilgrim Unit 1 in 2019, Oyster Creek Unit 1 in 2020, and Diablo Canyon Units 1 and 2 in 2025 and 2026.
Since the assumptions were finalized, legislation passed by the Illinois government created financial incentives through 2026 to support the continued operation of Quad Cities and Clinton. Operators of these two plants subsequently withdrew their announcements to retire those plants, reducing the amount of capacity likely to retire in 2017 and 2018.
However, in the months since assumptions were finalized, Entergy also announced its intention to retire three plants: Michigan’s Palisades in 2018 and New York’s Indian Point Units 2 and 3 around 2020.
Click Here to read the full article.
(Photo: Three Mile Island, Dauphin County.)
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Op-Ed: Nuclear Energy - A Keystone For Pennsylvania’s Economy And Environment

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