5.4 Nuclear Energy (Ch. 21)

The DDPP reports project a doubling of demand in the United States for electricity by 2050, even accounting for increased energy efficiency and conservation. In two DDPP scenarios—the High Nuclear and Mixed Scenarios—this demand would be met by significant increases in nuclear, wind, and solar energy by 2050. The DDPP High Nuclear Scenario involves more than 400 gigawatts of nuclear. This is four times current nuclear capacity in the United States. The DDPP Mixed Scenario involves approximately 200 gigawatts of nuclear capacity, or two times current capacity. A sustained national commitment to nuclear energy in the United States would be necessary to meet the DDPP goals—for either the High Nuclear or Mixed Scenario. Advanced nuclear technologies exist or are under development that could support a significant, rapid expansion of nuclear energy capacity. But under current conditions, those technologies are not likely to be deployed at the scale required to meet the assumptions in either DDPP scenario. The chapter therefore highlights various factors that impact nuclear energy and proposes legal, regulatory, and policy changes to reduce barriers and promote increased use of nuclear generation.