U.S. Energy Information Administration - EIA - Independent Statistics and Analysis
Annual Energy Outlook 2015
Market Trends: Nuclear
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).
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.
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