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Myths & Facts About Energy Supply

Myth: Uranium supplies are running out.

Fact: Readily available uranium resources (5.5 million metric tons) will last at least 100 years at today’s consumption rate, according to the World Nuclear Association and the Nuclear Energy Agency of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. An estimated additional 10.5 million metric tons that remain untapped will expand the available supply to at least 200 years at today’s consumption rate. The agency also determined that further exploration and improvements in extraction technology are likely to at least double this estimate over time. These estimates do not take into account the effect that increased recycling of used nuclear fuel would have on global supplies. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology confirmed that uranium supplies will not limit the expansion of nuclear energy in the U.S. in its 2010 study “The Future of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle.”

Myth: Nuclear energy is not needed to achieve the nation’s energy and environmental goals.

Fact: Analyses of climate change issued by independent organizations including the National Academies of Science, Electric Power Research Institute, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Energy Information Administration show that reducing carbon emissions requires a portfolio of clean energy technologies, including nuclear energy. All agree that a major expansion of nuclear generating capacity over the next few decades is essential for success.

Myth: Renewables and efficiency can meet all the nation’s energy needs.

Fact: Increased efficiency and the expansion of renewable energy supplies are important, but wind and solar technologies are intermittent by nature and cannot generate continuous electricity supply. Baseload electricity makes up more than 60 percent of the electricity used in the United States. Even with record growth in recent years, renewable energy technologies constitute 4 percent of U.S. electricity production, excluding hydroelectric power that increased only marginally. Nuclear power plants provide 19 percent of the nation’s electricity, despite constituting only 9 percent of installed electric generating capacity. Currently, nuclear energy, coal and natural gas power plants produce 86 percent of the nation’s electricity. Nuclear energy is the only low-carbon source of baseload electricity that can be expanded on a large scale to replace carbon-emitting coal and natural gas baseload power plants.

Myth: Baseload electricity is not needed to meet our energy needs.

Fact: Baseload electricity is critical to the U.S. economy and American’s quality of life. About 60 percent of the electricity used in the United States is baseload electricity. Baseload electricity is the continuous “round-the-clock” electricity needed to run our homes, schools, hospitals, businesses, transportation infrastructure, telecommunications, military and other operations vital to the safety and security of our nation and citizens. Nuclear energy, coal and natural gas power plants produce most of the nation’s baseload electricity. Intermittent electricity sources such as wind and solar are incapable of generating baseload electricity.