Over the past couple of weeks we’ve updated a large number of stats on our website for the curious public as we normally do every April and May. After updating our stats for a number of years, it’s always been interesting to analyze and see how the latest numbers have changed. For instance, US nuclear plants generated slightly less electricity in 2009 than in 2008, yet nuclear’s fuel share increased from 19.6% in 2008 to 20.2% in 2009. That’s simply because electricity generation declined by four percent in the US due to that major economic setback we’re finally coming out of. FERC’s latest state of the markets report noted the following (pdf):
This  was the greatest decline in a single year in at least 60 years and, with 2008, the only time electricity demand has fallen in consecutive years since 1949.
Below are a few summaries of our latest updates as well as links to new stats that you may be interested in.
Among the more notable changes in numbers are the production costs of nuclear compared to fossil fuels. In 2009, the US nuclear fleet’s production costs were 2.03 cents/kWh, a 5% increase from 2008 after adjusting for inflation. Coal’s production costs for 2009 were 2.97 cents/kWh (6% increase over 2008), gas was 5.00 cents/kWh (36% decrease over 2008), and petroleum was 12.37 cents/kWh (30% decrease over 2008).
The spike in uranium spot prices in 2006 and 2007 has begun to impact nuclear fuel costs which increased from 0.51 cents/kWh in 2008 to 0.57 cents/kWh in 2009. Nuclear operations and maintenance (O&M) costs remained the same as the previous year at 1.46 cents/kWh in 2009. (Production costs are the O&M plus fuel costs for a power plant; 1 cent/kWh equals $10/MWh.)
Even though nuclear fuel costs saw a noticeable increase last year; when compared to other fuels such as gas and oil, nuclear clearly maintained its low and stable costs.
In 2009, the 104 operating nuclear units avoided 647 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, much less than previous years. The major reason for the decline is not that nuclear generation fell significantly from 2008 to 2009 but that US electric generation from coal dropped fairly dramatically.
Emissions avoided are calculated using regional and national fossil fuel emission rates from the Environmental Protection Agency and plant generation data from the Energy Information Administration. Since coal emits the most CO2 of any fossil-fuel, a decline in its generation means that emission rates will be lower across the country. This is the reason why CO2 emissions avoided by nuclear was the lowest since 1997.
Other updates for your intellectual gain include:
In 2009, nuclear’s fuel share was 20.2%, generation was 798,744,738 MWh and capacity factor was 90.5%. For details on each reactor’s generation, capacity and capacity factor for 2009, click here.
Below are the capacity factors for the following fuel (and prime mover types) for 2009:
AEHI changed its reactor technology choice from the EPR to undecided and changed its Idaho location from Elmore County to Payette County. The company plans to submit an application in FY 2012. Exelon submitted an ESP in May for the Victoria County, TX site. And Dominion selected the APWR as its design.
If anyone asks what’s the status of new plants in the US, a stat to remember is this: the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is actively reviewing 13 combined license applications from 12 companies and consortia for 22 nuclear power plants totaling 27,800 MW.
State-by-state electricity generation fuel shares have been updated for 2009.
As of March 31, 2010, $34.7 billion have been committed to the Fund, of which $24.7 billion remain.
Side note – We know the use of our PowerPoint and Excel files are not necessarily the easiest ways to transfer stats across the internet. For those who are inconvenienced, we’re looking into creating html or image files that will make it easier for users to view and link to the info. If anyone has suggestions on other ways to make the transfer of info easier, we’d be eager to know.
Hope you enjoy the latest round of updates!