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How many nuclear power plants would need to be in the US to be the main source of electricity?

France gets almost 80% of its electricity from nuclear power plants but it is a small country, so how many power plants would the US need to get around 80-90% of its electricity from nuclear power.

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4 Responses to “How many nuclear power plants would need to be in the US to be the main source of electricity?”

  1. Beep said :

    Freshman year of college, I was big into the whole let’s-use-nuclear-power for everything. I did the research and wrote a big report on it.

    Turns out here’s a bummer:
    If we ran everything on nuclear power for the next 12 years, assuming 100% efficiency (which is beyond us) and use of some fuels which we can’t currently harness, we’ll still be out of nuclear fuel by the end of that period.

    Like fossil fuels, nuclear fuels are stuff we pull out of the dirt. Once they’re used, they’re used, and that’s it for them.

    Hypothetically, we can get fusion going at some point, like our sun does, but that technology isn’t what our current nuclear power plants run on today; that is also beyond us. However, it is a very likely choice for power generation at some point in the future (although probably not the immediate future).

  2. nutail12 said :

    Using figures for the year 2007 from, the total electrical output in the US is,

    4,156,745 [thousand-Megawatthours]

    806,425 [thousand-Megawatthours] is provided by 104 nuclear plants ( 19.4%)

    Now we make the following assumptions,

    Assume the plants are built instantaneously (b/c the energy capacity grows every year and then you have to play with a geometric series etc. accounting for how long it takes a plant to be built etc.)

    All plants make the same output (this varies a lot and newer plants are getting more efficient).


    Purposed energy output by nuclear plants (85%)

    3,533,233 [thousand-Megawatthours]

    7,754 [thousand-Megawatthours] per nuclear plants

    455 plants are needed

    455-104= 351 plants need to be built.

    Now I would bet this is a pretty close figure, since the we actually need less since newer plants are more efficient but out demand grows.

    As a side note, we could support these many reactors if we reprocess fuel and used breeder reactors and advanced reactors with what we call harder neutron spectrum to consume other lanthanides and actinides that are not utilized in typical thermal reactors.

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