Editor’s Note: Nuclear energy in the U.S. is the single largest resource of carbon-free power, accounting for 55 percent of that sector which includes utility -scale wind, hydro and solar.
Last year, the nuclear sector didn’t add a single reactor, but moved into second place in the nation’s generation capacity mix as utilities retired more coal-fired plants to reach emissions goals.
Nuclear, however, is the most expensive generation type to both build and maintain, and, of course, comes with the gravest safety concerns of radioactive materials. These are some of the reasons why only one new reactor unit, TVA’s Watts Bar 2, has been added in the past three decades. And only two new reactors, Units 3 and 4 at Georgia Power’s Vogtle power plant, are under construction in this country.