Nuclear generation: another year, another record

March 15, 2001à‚–The U.S. nuclear power industry achieved its second straight year of record power generation levels during 2000.

According to information released today by the Energy Information Administration, total power generated was 753.9 billion kWh, 3.5 percent above the previous record of 728.1 billion kWh set in 1999.

This represents continued growth in power production for the nuclear power industry that had produced only 577.0 million kWh as recently as 1990. The record year 2000 output was achieved despite the fact that the industry now has only 103 operating reactors compared to 111 operating reactors as recently as 1990.

Record output was attained through an annual net capacity factor of 89.1 percent during 2000 compared to 85.5 percent in 1999 and 70.2 percent in 1990.

* Nuclear generation surpassed 700 billion kWh for second consecutive year. For eight of the first nine months of 2000, nuclear generation was higher than in the same month during 1999. The nuclear industry generated 69.2 billion kWh in July 2000, the highest level for the U.S. nuclear power industry ever. The increase in nuclear generation over the past 2 years would have been enough to meet the power needs of all residential consumers in California in 1999.

* Record performance of nuclear power plants during 2000. The U.S. nuclear industry’s annual capacity utilization rate (see following chart), as measured by the annual net capacity factor (the ratio of the amount of electricity actually generated to the amount of electricity that could be produced at full power with continuous operations) was 89.1 percent. Monthly capacity utilization rates exceeded 90 percent during January, February, June, July, August, and December, months during which the power industry must meet peak summer and winter demands.

* Recent years of reliable service and declining production costs have led to increased industry interest in nuclear power plant license renewal. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved the license renewal applications for five U.S. nuclear power plants in 2000. Five additional applications were received and 28 more are planned to be submitted by 2004.

Information on the nuclear generation of individual nuclear plants is available electronically on EIA’s Internet Web Site:

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