US nuclear power generation up 10% by 2035

Despite renewables and natural gas nipping at its heals, nuclear power will still see 10% growth by 2035.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration released its Annual Energy Outlook 2012 this month.

The authors of the report estimate that 15.8 gigawatts of new nuclear capacity is added from 2010 through 2035, from a mix of new plants getting built and old plants being refurbished.

Nuclear will, however, make up less of the overall energy pie, declining from 20 percent in 2010 to 18 percent by 2035.

The authors realize utilities take on a lot when going nuclear.

"Building a new nuclear power plant is a tremendously complex project that can take many years to complete. Specialized highwage workers, expensive materials and components, and engineering and construction expertise are required, and only a select group of firms worldwide can provide them," writes the report authors.

But keeping some nuclear in the mix still makes sense for utilities.

"Despite the cost, however, deployment of new nuclear capacity supports the long-term resource plans of many utilities, by allowing fuel diversification and providing a hedge in the future against potential GHG emissions regulations or natural gas prices that are higher than expected."

Image of the Trojan Nuclear Plant at Ranier on the Columbia River from 1973