Operation of the existing plants to 60 years, extending the operating lifetimes of those plants beyond 60 years and, where practical, making further improvements in their productivity is essential to realizing the Administration’s goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by the year 2050.
The following LWRS Program research and development pathways address Objective 1 of the
2010 Nuclear Energy Roadmap:
Materials Aging and Degradation
Advanced Instrumentation, Information, and Control Systems Technologies
Risk-Informed Safety Margin Characterization
Reactor Safety Technologies
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Domestic demand for electrical energy is expected to grow by about 29% from 2012 to 2040*. At the same time, most of the currently operating nuclear power plants will begin reaching the end of their initial 20-year extension to their original 40-year operating license, for a total of 60 years of operation (the oldest commercial plants in the United States reached their 40th anniversary in 2009). The figure above shows projected nuclear energy contribution to the domestic generating capacity for 40 and 60-year license periods. If current operating nuclear power plants do not operate beyond 60 years (and new nuclear plants are not built quickly enough to replace them), the total fraction of generated electrical energy from nuclear power will rapidly decline. That decline will be accelerated if plants are shut down before 60 years of operation. Decisions on extended operation ultimately rely on economic factors; however, economics can often be improved through technical advancements.
*Annual Energy Outlook 2014, page MT-16.