The first commercial plant was built in 1957, and as of 2008 [9] there were 443 nuclear power plants in the world, with an installed capacity of 365 GW (production, 2,659 TWH; 2006 data) and 104 plants in the United States (installed capacity, 106 GW; production, 788 TWH). They provide around 15% of global electricity, with the largest percentage being France at 78%. The United States has not built any new nuclear plants in a number of years, and the percent of the U.S. electricity has declined from 23 to 20% as new electric plants are primarily fired by natural gas (Table 2.3). The U.S. nuclear plants


Percent by Fuel Type for Electric Generation in the United States, 2005

Coal 50

Nuclear 19

Natural gas 19

Oil 2

Renewablesa 10

Source: Data from EIA.

a Most renewable is hydro, although wind has been increasing.

have around a 90% capacity factor, which is a large improvement from a 66% capacity factor in 1990. Nuclear power has had a large amount of funding for R&D in the United States and continues to receive substantial federal funding. Again, go to the Energy Information Agency for more information.

Renewable Energy 101

Renewable Energy 101

Renewable energy is energy that is generated from sunlight, rain, tides, geothermal heat and wind. These sources are naturally and constantly replenished, which is why they are deemed as renewable. The usage of renewable energy sources is very important when considering the sustainability of the existing energy usage of the world. While there is currently an abundance of non-renewable energy sources, such as nuclear fuels, these energy sources are depleting. In addition to being a non-renewable supply, the non-renewable energy sources release emissions into the air, which has an adverse effect on the environment.

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