Facts About Nuclear Power
A Vital Economic Engine
Diablo Canyon is a vital economic engine for San Luis Obispo County and the state of California.
- As a major employer and purchaser of goods and services, Diablo Canyon has a total economic impact of more than $640 million annually for San Luis Obispo County and another $100 million for the state of California.
- Diablo Canyon spends $10 million to $12 million locally each year on goods and services.
- Diablo Canyon employs approximately 1,200 highly skilled, highly trained workers, and more than 200 full-time equivalent employees through contractors, many of whom live in the immediate area.
- By pursuing an extension of Diablo Canyon's licenses, we will continue to deliver many local benefits, including more than $25 million in property taxes in the 2008-2009 fiscal year.
Nuclear Power Facts
From the Nuclear Energy Institute
- There are 104 commercial nuclear reactors with operating licenses at 64 sites in 31 states.
- There are 439 commercial nuclear reactors in the world, located in 30 countries.
- Nuclear energy provides about 20% of the United States' electricity.
- In 2007, nuclear power generated 806.5 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) in the U.S.
- The average capacity factor for U.S. nuclear power plants has hovered at or near 90% since the start of the decade, while electricity production has risen approximately 16% over the past 10 years. The increase in electricity production—from 673 billion kWh in 1995 to 782 billion kWh in 2005—is roughly equivalent to bringing 14 new 1,000 megawatt (MW) power plants into service.
- Improved operations since 1980—The nuclear industry has managed to increase its average annual capacity factor (from around 56.3% in 1980 to 66% in 1990 and to 91.8% in 2007).
- U.S. state usage—Six states have nuclear as the largest percentage of their electricity: Vermont (73.7%), South Carolina (51.2%), New Hampshire (46%), Illinois (47.8%), New Jersey (49%), and Connecticut (45%).
- World usage—In 2007, approximately 15% of worldwide electricity was generated from nuclear reactors. Countries generating the largest percentage of their electricity from nuclear energy were France, 76.8%; Lithuania, 64.4%; Slovakia 54.3%; Belgium, 54%; Bulgaria, 32.1%; Sweden, 46.1%; Ukraine, 48.1%; Hungary, 36.8%; Slovenia, 41.6%; Switzerland, 40%; South Korea 35.3%; Armenia 43.5%. In total, 16 countries relied on nuclear energy to supply at least one-quarter of their total electricity.
- Nuclear fuel—Nuclear power plants use uranium oxide to generate electricity. Fuel, in the form of small ceramic pellets, is placed inside metal fuel rods. Rods are then grouped into bundles called assemblies. Fission occurs when uranium atoms split, causing a reaction that produces heat energy. This energy is used to boil water into steam, which drives a turbine generator to produce electricity. Every 18 to 24 months, about one-third of the nuclear fuel in a reactor core needs to be unloaded and replaced with fresh fuel.
- Amount of electricity generated by a 1,000-MW reactor at 90% capacity factor in one year: 7.9 billion kWh—enough to supply electricity for 740,000 households.
If generated by other fuel sources, it would require:
- Oil: 13.7 million barrels – 1 barrel yields 576 kWh
- Coal: 3.4 million short tons – 1 ton yields 2,297 kWh
- Natural Gas: 65.8 billion cubic feet – 100 cubic feet yields 12 kWh
(based on average conversion rates from the Energy Information Administration)
To learn more, visit the Nuclear Energy Institute.