‹ Analysis & Projections

Annual Energy Outlook 2014

Release Date: May 7, 2014   |  Next Early Release Date: December 2014   |  See schedule  |  full report

Market Trends: Nuclear

Nuclear electricity generation varies with license renewals, uprates, and operating costs

Projections of nuclear capacity and generation are influenced by assumptions about the potential for capacity uprates, new licensing requirements, future operating costs, and outside influences such as natural gas prices and incentives for other generating technologies. In the Reference case, nuclear capacity and generation remain relatively flat, with early retirements offset by new additions (Figure MT-35).


figure data

As discussed in AEO2014 Issues in focus, the Accelerated Nuclear Retirement case assumes no new nuclear builds beyond those currently under construction; that all existing units are retired by 60 years of age; and that nonfuel operating costs at existing nuclear plants increase by 3% annually, similar to recent rates. In this case, 42 gigawatts (GW) of nuclear capacity is retired, mostly from 2030 to 2040. The Low Nuclear case combines those assumptions with the High Oil and Gas Resource case and the No Sunset case. Lower natural gas prices make existing and new natural gas units more economical, and together with tax credits for newly added renewable capacity, they lower electricity market prices. With rising operating costs for nuclear plants and lower electricity prices, 77 GW of nuclear capacity is retired before 60 years of life. The retired nuclear capacity is replaced primarily by natural gas capacity, leading to a 6% increase in CO2 emissions in the electric
power sector in 2040.

The High Nuclear case assumes more uprates of existing units, adding 6.0 GW of capacity, and the addition of 12.6 GW of planned capacity through 2027. As a result, total nuclear generation in 2040 is 17% higher than in the Reference case, reducing the need for additional natural gas-fired generation.

Reference Case Tables
Table 1. Total Energy Supply, Disposition, and Price Summary XLS
Table 2. Energy Consumption by Sector and Source - United States XLS
Table 3. Energy Prices by Sector and Source - United States XLS
Table 4. Residential Sector Key Indicators and Consumption XLS
Table 5. Commercial Sector Key Indicators and Consumption XLS
Table 6. Industrial Sector Key Indicators and Consumption XLS
Table 7. Transportation Sector Key Indicators and Delivered Energy Consumption XLS
Table 8. Electricity Supply, Disposition, Prices, and Emissions XLS
Table 9. Electricity Generating Capacity XLS
Table 10. Electricity Trade XLS
Table 11. Petroleum and Other Liquids Supply and Disposition XLS
Table 12. Petroleum and Other Liquids Prices XLS
Table 13. Natural Gas Supply, Disposition, and Prices XLS
Table 14. Oil and Gas Supply XLS
Table 15. Coal Supply, Disposition, and Prices XLS
Table 16. Renewable Energy Generating Capacity and Generation XLS
Table 17. Renewable Energy Consumption by Sector and Source XLS
Table 18. Energy-Related Carbon Dioxide Emissions by Sector and Source - United States XLS
Table 19. Energy-Related Carbon Dioxide Emissions by End Use XLS
Table 20. Macroeconomic Indicators XLS
Table 21. International Petroleum and Other Liquids Supply, Disposition, and Prices XLS