New U.S. Nuclear Generation: 2010-2030: Geoffrey Rothwell (Stanford University)
Approximately 20 percent of U.S. electricity is generated from 103 nuclear plants currently in operation. Due largely to public concerns about safety, waste disposal, and nuclear materials proliferation, no new plants having been commissioned since 1978. Recently, however, concerns over energy security and climate change, along with continued growth in demand for new generation capacity, have prompted renewed interest in nuclear power as a relatively secure and low-emissions source of electricity. This technical report discusses the policies available to stimulate new nuclear plant development, the impacts of these policies on the costs of power generation, their cost-effectiveness at reducing GHG emissions, and the time at which new plants might become operational. Specific policies assessed include the expansion of federal loan guarantees. The report also qualitatively addresses the broader issues related to nuclear power generation, including accident risks, siting difficulties, and long-term disposal issues.