New Projects, Nuclear, Reactors

Nuclear Generation Expected to Decline with Reactor Retirements

By Editors of Power Engineering

Far more nuclear generation capacity is expected to be retired rather than added through 2050, a study by the Energy Information Administration indicated.

Though 9.1 GW of new capacity is projected to be added, 29.9 GW is expected to be retired. The reactors already announced for closure include Palisades in 2018, Pilgrim Unit 1 in 2019, Oyster Creek Unit 1 in 2020, Indian Point Units 2 and 3 around 2020 and Diablo Canyon Units 1 and 2 in 2025 and 2026.

Though Quad Cities Units 1 and 2 and Clinton Unit 1 were set for retirement, financial incentives passed by the state of Illinois caused the operators of those plants to keep them open.

EIA assumes 25 percent of nuclear capacity now operating without announced retirement plans will be removed from service by 2050.

The four new reactors under construction at V.C. Summer and Vogtle are included in the assessment, EIA said their future process is uncertain due to the bankruptcy of Westinghouse Electric.

New nuclear power plants are licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for 40 years, though 90 percent of currently operating nuclear plants are either operating under or have applied for 20-year license renewals. Nearly all nuclear plants now in use began operation between 1970 and 1990.

EIA noted the capital investment needed to keep plants operating beyond 60 years is currently unknown and could vary significantly across the nuclear power fleet.