Tuesday, February 19, 2013

US Nuclear Generation Drops For Two Years Running

Nuclear power generated a record amount of power in 2010, when it produced 806.9 billion kilowatt-hours, just slightly more than in 2007 or 2008. But the nuclear industry produced less electricity in 2011 and will have another decline in 2012, when it is likely to generate about 778 billion kilowatt-hours.

The total drop in nuclear generation will be about 29 billion kilowatt-hours or 3% off the peak 2010 production.  The decrease in nuclear generation is equal to enough power for 2.9 million American homes and is about 6 times the solar power production recorded by EIA.  EIA solar data, however, does not include large amounts of solar generation that is not utility scale.  

After adjusting the EIA solar data to include distributed solar generation, the 29 billion kilowatt-hour decrease in nuclear generation would be about 3 times the total solar generation in the USA.  That fact both expresses the large amount of power generated by nuclear and still the small but growing rapidly solar production.

Given that nuclear power has seen production declines in 2011 and 2012, it will be worth watching to see if 2013 continues or reverses that trend.


  1. Hi John. Great data as usual. Any speculation as to the reasons for declining nuclear generation in the US? Cheap gas edging out nuclear? More extended closures due to an aging fleet (e.g. the outage at San Onofre)?

    This is an important trend, and not a good one for US CO2.

    1. The decline is the result of mechanical problems at a few plants--the California nukes for example. One thing to watch is whether more nukes follow the Dominion plant in Wisconsin and retire even though they run well. Perhaps 25% of nukes have operational costs near or above today's low wholesale market price.