For the last 30 years, nuclear power has consistently provided around 20 percent of annual electricity generation in the United States, and half of the country’s carbon-free energy. But while efficiency updates increase output, allowing fewer reactors to provide the same amount of electricity, the average nuclear reactor is almost 40 years old and more than a dozen have been shuttered. Just one new reactor has come online since 1996, though two more are expected in by 2022. For a host of reasons, the legacy of nuclear power in the United States includes years-long delays in construction, power plants abandoned before they were even completed, and massive cost overruns that are passed on to the public.

Early in 2020, though, the federal Department of Energy announced its Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program, which calls for construction of two new prototype nuclear reactors within seven years. It may or may not happen, depending on who one asks: as the cost of renewable energy continues to fall and natural gas remains abundant and inexpensive, new nuclear reactors simply may not be cost-competitive.

Additionally, in April 2020, the DOE announced its Strategy to Restore American Nuclear Energy Leadership, which includes a plan to increase domestic uranium mining and establish a national uranium reserve.

The coming decade will be pivotal to nuclear power’s future in the United States. Supporters cite climate change as one very important reason to ramp up construction of new reactors, as it is ever more critical to prevent the greenhouse gases which burning still more fossil fuels would produce. Opponents point to concern about the security of nuclear material in an age of terrorism, the very long-term storage of radioactive waste (thousands of years), and the fear of an accidental release of radiation, as happened in Japan in 2011, in the former Soviet Union in 1986, and in Pennsylvania in 1979.

What is Nuclear Energy? | National Geographic



Backgrounder on the Three Mile Island Accident

The Three Mile Island Unit 2 reactor, near Middletown, Pa., partially melted down on March 28, 1979. This was the most serious accident in U.S. commercial nuclear power plant operating history, although its small radioactive…

What is nuclear waste, and what do we do with it?

Like all industries and energy-producing technologies, the use of nuclear energy results in some waste products. There are three types of nuclear waste, classified according to their radioactivity: low-, intermediate-, and high-level. The vast majority…

A Nuclear Innovation Company

With the growing demand for electricity, TerraPower entered the nuclear energy arena because its founders saw clean energy as the pathway to lift billions out of poverty. The company has since expanded that vision to…

Putting Nuclear Power In Perspective: An Interview with David Watson

"Beating climate change is hard enough without taking away one of the best low-carbon tools we have. It’s time to talk about nuclear." --David Watson

Storage and Disposal of Radioactive Waste

Most low-level radioactive waste (LLW) is typically sent to land-based disposal immediately following its packaging for long-term management. This means that for the majority (~90% by volume) of all of the waste types produced by…

How Advanced Nuclear Got on the Map

Advanced nuclear could play a critical role in getting the domestic and global electricity sector to net-zero emissions by 2050, decarbonizing industrial processes, and producing green hydrogen. These contributions from new nuclear technologies are possible,…

Nuclear Power is the Most Reliable Energy Source and It’s Not Even Close

Nuclear energy is America’s work horse. It’s been rolling up its sleeves for six decades now to provide constant, reliable, carbon-free power to millions of Americans. Just how reliable has nuclear energy been? It has…

Civilian Nuclear Power

A Report to the president-1962

Nuclear Energy Institute

What can get D.C. politicos and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, environmentalists and business leaders, conservatives and liberals, national security experts and celebrities to finally agree? Nuclear energy provides nearly 20 percent of America’s electricity, all without…

Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program

Advanced nuclear energy systems hold enormous potential to lower emissions, create new jobs, and build an even stronger economy. The Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP) will speed the demonstration of advanced reactors through cost-shared partnerships with U.S.…

The Health and Environmental Impact of Uranium Mining

Nuclear is an efficient and powerful energy source with life cycle carbon emissions that are as low as some renewable sources. While not as popular as liquid and coal, nuclear power plants still generate a…

Three Mile Island Accident

In 1979 at Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in USA a cooling malfunction caused part of the core to melt in the #2 reactor. The TMI-2 reactor was destroyed. Some radioactive gas was released…

We are a group of nuclear engineers hoping to help the world learn some interesting and important information about nuclear energy. We find ourselves explaining things like waste recycling and passive safety over and over…


Can Nuclear Fusion Put the Brakes on Climate Change?

By Rivka Galchen  Illustration by Alexander Glandien   10/04/21  
Let’s say that you’ve devoted your entire adult life to developing a carbon-free way to power a household for a year on the fuel of a single glass of water, and that you’ve had moments,…

Four takeaways from the 2021 World Nuclear Industry Status Report

By Dawn Stover   10/01/21  
Although there are 23 fewer nuclear reactors in the world today than at the 2002 peak of 438, the past year saw a small uptick in the number of reactors operating worldwide and a corresponding…

State, federal actions show growing push for a nuclear role in reaching net zero emissions

By Herman K. Trabish  Photo: Scott Olson via Getty Images   09/28/21  
Nuclear power advocates are increasingly emphasizing the value of existing but financially struggling U.S. nuclear plants in curbing carbon emissions and addressing climate change.

Nuclear Is the Bastion of Pennsylvania’s Newest Climate Action Plan

By Sonal Patel   09/23/21  
Pennsylvania, a major power producer that relied on fossil fuels for 66% of its net power generation in June, plans to maintain its nuclear generation at current levels until it can ramp up other carbon-free…

What role for small modular nuclear reactors in combating climate change?

By Peter Sinclair   09/14/21  
Does the potential of small modular nuclear reactor technology make it a viable approach to helping solve climate change challenges not fully met by renewable energy sources such as wind and solar?

The Grassroots Movement that Saved One-Third of Illinois’ Clean Electricity

By Eric Meyer  Photo: Grace Barbic   09/14/21  
Today marks a massive victory for the United States pro-nuclear movement as key laws were passed in the Illinois legislature that secure the futures of the Byron and Dresden Nuclear Plants.

Illinois Senate passes bill to save nuclear plants, sends to House

By Timothy Gardner  Photo: Carlo Allegri , Reuters   09/02/21  
The Illinois Senate passed a bill early on Wednesday that aims to prevent two nuclear power plants from shutting this autumn, sending the legislation to the House where it was uncertain if the chamber would…

US lab stands on threshold of key nuclear fusion goal

By Paul Rincon  Photo: Philip Saltonstall , BBC   08/18/21  
The National Ignition Facility uses a powerful laser to heat and compress hydrogen fuel, initiating fusion.

Why Anyone Concerned about Climate Change Should Support Nuclear Power

By Leonard Rodberg   08/12/21  
Though many environmentalists and climate change advocates reject nuclear power, without this reliable source of clean power, we will be unable to meet the climate challenge successfully. Three propositions underlie this statement:

Flipping the Script on Nuclear Waste: Why We Need Nuclear Energy Innovation

By Alan Ahn   08/07/21  
Spent nuclear fuel, although commonly considered “waste,” contains untapped energy that can be accessed through advanced technologies that are rapidly coming to the fore. These innovations can thus revolutionize how we view nuclear waste, thereby…

State, federal efforts too late to save Exelon’s Illinois nuclear plants, CEO Crane says

By Lulia Gheorghiu  Photo: Christopher Peterson   08/06/21  
Exelon Generation has two Illinois nuclear plants slated for shutdown and decommissioning this fall, despite recent federal proposals for both a tax credit and a fund for existing nuclear plants, and rising power prices in…

Utilities Eye Mini Nuclear Reactors as Climate Concerns Grow

By Elena Shao   08/02/21  
U.S. utilities are looking to miniature nuclear reactors, as they seek a steady energy source that can help reduce the carbon emissions linked to climate change.

The US Army tried portable nuclear power at remote bases 60 years ago – it didn’t go well

By Paul Bierman   07/20/21  
In a tunnel 40 feet beneath the surface of the Greenland ice sheet, a Geiger counter screamed. It was 1964, the height of the Cold War. U.S. soldiers in the tunnel, 800 miles from the North…

U.S. nuclear regulator approves fuel for next-generation reactors

By Timothy Gardner  Photo: REUTERS/Benoit Tessier   06/15/21  
The U.S. nuclear power regulator has approved production of uranium fuel that is far more enriched than fuel for conventional nuclear power plants, the company aiming to make the material said on Monday.

Nuclear fusion has attracted more than $2 billion in VC and private funding

By Eric Wesoff   06/11/21  
"I believe we are at the dawn of the fusion age," said Michl Binderbauer, CEO of TAE Technologies, a company working to develop commercial fusion power. For more than 70 years, nuclear fusion's massive energy-generation…

Advanced nuclear tech in ‘early innings’ but essential to widespread decarbonization, utility execs say

By Lulia Gheorghiu   06/08/21  
Utility CEOs are keeping the door open for new nuclear development while focusing on extending the life of their existing nuclear fleets, according to a Monday panel hosted by the Nuclear Energy Institute.

Fate of Illinois nuclear plants in balance after PJM auction fail and stalled subsidy plan

By Scott Voorhis   06/07/21  
Exelon Corp. reports that three of its nuclear plants in Illinois failed to clear the PJM Interconnection's capacity auction last week.Exelon, in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, revealed that its Bryon,…

Bill Gates’ next generation nuclear reactor to be built in Wyoming

By Timothy Gardner and Valerie Volcovici  Photo: Charles Platiau   06/03/21  
Billionaire Bill Gates' advanced nuclear reactor company TerraPower LLC and PacifiCorp (PPWLO.PK) have selected Wyoming to launch the first Natrium reactor project on the site of a retiring coal plant, the state's governor said on…

U.S. senators introduce nuclear power credit to help curb emissions

By Timoty Gardner  Photo: Erin Scot , Reuters   05/27/21  
Three Democratic U.S. senators introduced a measure on Wednesday to boost existing nuclear plants to a wide energy tax reform bill, after the Biden administration pushed for such a change to help curb carbon emissions.

The Great Turning Point for Humankind: What if Nuclear Energy had not been Abandoned in the 1970s?

By Ugo Bardi   05/25/21  
I remember having read Walt Disney’s book, “Our Friend, the Atom,” (1957) in the 1960s when I was, maybe, 10 years old. That book left a powerful impression on me. Still today, when I visualize…

California’s next climate challenge: Replacing its last nuclear power plant

By Sammy Roth  Photo: Mark Ralston / AFP via Getty Images   05/18/21  
The twin reactors along California’s Central Coast were nearing completion, and tens of thousands of people had gathered to protest. It was 1979, just months after a partial nuclear meltdown at Pennsylvania’s Three Mile Island,…

Our Biggest Source of Clean Energy Is on the Line. We Have a Short Window to Save It.

By Josh Freed   05/15/21  
We’ve reached a critical juncture in America’s nuclear energy future. Put differently, we’re in make-or-break territory for reaching net-zero by 2050. That’s because nuclear still accounts for more than 50% of our carbon-free power, and…

Biden backs subsidies to keep nuclear plants alive, energy chief says

By Josh Siegel   05/06/21  
The Biden administration is “eager” to work with Congress on subsidizing economically struggling nuclear plants to keep them from retiring, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said Thursday. “The DOE has not historically subsidized plants, but this…

Exelon CEO: Replacing nuclear with renewables, storage to meet carbon goals could cost Illinois $80B

By Larry Pearl  Photo: Christopher Peterson   05/06/21  
Achieving the same amount of zero emissions power through renewables and storage would be 12 times more expensive than continuing to run Illinois' nuclear plants and cost the state's consumers $80 billion, Exelon CEO Chris…

Inside Clean Energy: Indian Point Nuclear Plant Reaches a Contentious End

By Dan Gearino  Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images   05/06/21  
At 11 p.m. on April 30, employees shut down the nuclear reactor at Indian Point Energy Center Unit 3, marking the end of a power plant that has been an essential part of New York…

U.S. eyes nuclear reactor tax credit to meet climate goals -sources

By Timothy Gardner & Jarrett Renshaw  Photo: Mike Segar/Reuters   05/05/21  
The White House has signaled privately to lawmakers and stakeholders in recent weeks that it supports taxpayer subsidies to keep nuclear facilities from closing and making it harder to meet U.S. climate goals, three sources…

NRC backs Dominion Energy’s application to extend Surry’s two nuclear reactor units by 20 years

By Andrew Cain  Photo: Dominion Energy   05/04/21  
The staff of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has backed Dominion Energy’s application to extend operations at its Surry Power Station by 20 years, into the 2050s. The move means that Dominion’s nuclear power plant in…

The controversial future of nuclear power in the U.S.

By Lois Parshley   05/04/21  
President Joe Biden has set ambitious goals for fighting climate change: To cut U.S. carbon emissions in half by 2030 and to have a net-zero carbon economy by 2050. The plan requires electricity generation—the easiest…

The controversial future of nuclear power in the U.S.

By lois Parshley   05/04/21  
President Joe Biden has set ambitious goals for fighting climate change: To cut U.S. carbon emissions in half by 2030 and to have a net-zero carbon economy by 2050. The plan requires electricity generation—the easiest economic sector…

New York’s Indian Point nuclear power plant closes after 59 years of operation

By Slade Johnson  Photo: U.S. Energy Information Administration   04/30/21  
The Indian Point Energy Center (Indian Point) permanently stopped generating electricity on April 30, 2021, when it retired its last operating nuclear reactor, Unit 3, earlier than originally planned. The Indian Point nuclear power plant…

Nuclear plant north of New York City shutting down

By John Bowden   04/29/21  
A nuclear plant just north of New York City will close permanently on Friday, ending a years-long battle over its fate.

35 Years Later, Studies Show a Silver Lining From Chernobyl

By Sara Harrison  Photo by Sergei Supenski   04/26/21  
ON THIS DAY in 1986, workers ran a safety test at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in northern Ukraine. But the test went awry, starting a fire in a reactor and leading to one of…

Life goes on at Chernobyl 35 years after the world’s worst nuclear accident

By Jennifer Kingsley   04/26/21  
Every April 25, as night deepens, people gather around an angel that stands atop a stone plinth in the northern Ukrainian town of Chernobyl. The angel’s entire body is made of steel—mostly rebar that makes…

Last Look: Nuclear Energy in America

By Fareed Zakaria   04/25/21  
Fareed takes a look at plans to drastically reduce nuclear energy's role in powering America's grid, and why they are misguided.

This Is the End of Nuclear Energy in New York

By Patrick McGeehan  Photo: Dave Sanders , New York Times   04/21/21  
The nuclear age in the New York City area will end Friday night with the push of a button.

Nuclear power can help raise climate ambitions

By World Nuclear News   04/12/21  
Policymakers who ignore nuclear energy are not serious about meeting climate goals, delegates said at an Atlantic Council webinar last week. The first in the Raising Ambitions series, the event highlighted the attributes of this…

Former NRC chair questions economic feasibility of new nuclear in US

By Lulia Gheorghiu   04/12/21  
Without further aid from Congress and the White House, the prospects for the U.S. nuclear industry will dwindle in the face of cheaper resources that are getting built faster than new nuclear generators, according to a…

Will Nuclear Energy’s No-Carbon Quality Outweigh The Fukushima Accident?

By Ken Silverstein   04/11/21  
The global community has witnessed Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima — nuclear accidents that have left many skeptical. But energy experts and climate hawks say those events are rare, noting that hundreds of reactors have…

How long can a nuclear plant run? Regulators consider 100 years

By Matthew Bandyk   03/29/21  
This fall, Exelon plans to retire the Dresden nuclear power plant in Illinois after more than 51 years in operation, one of the longest life spans any commercial nuclear power reactor has ever achieved. The…

EU experts to say nuclear power qualifies for green investment label -document

By Kate Abnett  Photo: Arnd Wiegmann   03/27/21  
Experts tasked with assessing whether the European Union should label nuclear power as a green investment will say that the fuel qualifies as sustainable, according to a document reviewed by Reuters. The European Commission is…

Nuclear industry calls for state policy focus as resource outstrips coal generation in US

By Lulia Gheorghiu   03/25/21  
NEI's presentation came as federal regulators kicked off a technical conference to evaluate wholesale market competition in states that have clean energy subsidies intended to subsidize nuclear and other zero-emission resources. States that offer zero…

Maria Korsnick’s Remarks at the State of the Nuclear Energy Industry Event

By Maria Korsnick   03/23/21  
NEI President and Chief Executive Officer Maria Korsnick delivered the following remarks on the critical role nuclear energy will play in meeting the Biden administration’s aggressive climate goals at NEI’s annual State of the Nuclear…

California’s last nuclear plant is poised to shut down. What happens next?

By Kavya Balaraman   03/23/21  
As California's last nuclear facility — the 2.2 GW Diablo Canyon power plant — approaches its scheduled retirement date, some energy experts worry that the state hasn't fully prepared for what comes next.

Maria Korsnick’s Remarks at the State of the Nuclear Energy Industry Event

NEI President and Chief Executive Officer Maria Korsnick delivered the following remarks on the critical role nuclear energy will play in meeting the Biden administration’s aggressive climate goals at NEI’s annual State of the Nuclear…

Board was right to allow $300M nuclear subsidy, appeals court rules

By Tom Johnson   03/19/21  
A state appeals court upheld the decision by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to give hundreds of millions of dollars, paid by utility customers, to the owners of three nuclear power plants in…

Nuclear Power Looks to Regain Its Footing 10 Years after Fukushima

By Jeremy Hsu  Photo by Guillaume Souvant   03/09/21  
Nuclear power faces a wobbly future 10 years after an earthquake and tsunami triggered a triple reactor meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan. But the industry’s unstable footing has less to do with…

Radioactive Water Dilemma at Fukushima

By Peter Dykstra  Photo by Greg Webb   03/05/21  
Ten years after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster, millions of gallons of radioactive cooling water are about to overflow storage tanks. Japanese authorities are looking at the option of releasing it into the…

Nuclear on the radar: Part I

By Amanda Eggert   03/02/21  
Nuclear energy is having a moment in the Montana Legislature. With uncertainty surrounding the future of the state’s coal-fired power plants and the Biden administration’s aggressive targets for reducing fossil-fuel emissions to combat climate change,…

The Activists Who Embrace Nuclear Power

By Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow  Photo by David Paul Morris   02/19/21  
In 2004, Heather Hoff was working at a clothing store and living with her husband in San Luis Obispo, a small, laid-back city in the Central Coast region of California. A few years earlier, she…

Mini nuclear reactors offer promise of cheaper, clean power

By Daniel Michaels  Illustration: Nuscale Power (Rendering)   02/11/21  
Reactor makers are pitching smaller, modular systems that produce limitless emissions-free energy—but they may not be an easy sell