Uranium is a nuclear fuel that is used in nuclear reactors to generate electricity. Nuclear energy is a controversial topic, with supporters touting its potential as a clean, reliable source of power, and detractors expressing concerns about safety and waste disposal. Over the past decade, nuclear energy has continued to play a significant role in the US and worldwide, with several countries investing in new nuclear projects and others phasing out their nuclear fleets.
In the US, nuclear power provides approximately 20% of the country’s electricity, making it the second-largest source of carbon-free power after hydropower. According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), there are currently 93 operating nuclear reactors in the US, which generated over 800 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity in 2019.
The US nuclear industry has faced several challenges over the past decade, including competition from natural gas and renewable energy, regulatory hurdles, and public opposition. However, several reactors have been relicensed to continue operating for an additional 20 years, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved the construction of several new reactors.
Globally, nuclear energy accounts for approximately 10% of electricity generation, with over 400 reactors operating in 30 countries. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), several countries, including China, India, Russia, and the United Arab Emirates, are investing in new nuclear projects, while others, such as Germany and Switzerland, have decided to phase out their nuclear fleets.
In recent years, several countries have also faced challenges with their nuclear programs, including the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan and concerns about the safety of aging reactors. However, proponents of nuclear energy argue that new reactor designs and safety measures can address these concerns and make nuclear energy a safe and sustainable source of power.
The following sources provide more information on nuclear energy and its use in the US and worldwide over the past decade:
Nuclear energy continues to play a significant role in the US and worldwide, providing a source of reliable, carbon-free power. While the industry faces several challenges, including competition from other energy sources and concerns about safety and waste disposal, new technologies and safety measures are being developed to address these issues. As countries work to transition to cleaner energy sources, nuclear energy will likely remain a part of the energy mix for years to come.