Power generation is down. Guess what’s happened to nuclear’s share?


Despite the booming economy and GDP growth since the Great Recession, electrical generation has declined. It never recovered, reports one site.

Along these lines, GE Power recently announced layoffs in its Greenville, South Carolina facility. At the same time, it announced layoffs at its Schenectady, New York location, too. GE Power manufactures gas and wind turbines…

The story is summarized at Wolfstreet:

GE Power has a problem: Electricity consumption in the US peaked in 2007 and has declined since, despite population growth of about 24 million people over the 10 years and despite economic growth.

The chart below, based on data from the Department of Energy’s EIA, shows annual electricity generation from 2001 through 2016. Note the growth in generation through 2007, the plunge during the Financial Crisis, the recovery, and the uneven decline since:

With another graph, Wolfstreet shows this trend has continued in 2017. It offers an explanation for the decline since the Great Recession began:

There are a number of reasons for the decline in demand for electricity, including more efficient heating and air conditioning systems, more efficient residential and commercial buildings, the switch to more efficient lights such as LEDs, the offshoring of power-intensive industries that started decades ago, the rise of rooftop solar, etc.

The fluctuating components of electrical capacity are being dominated by natural gas and coal. And because of cheap natural gas prices and high-efficiency combined-cycle gas turbines, natural gas is displacing coal’s share of the market.

Here’s another chart:

But despite all of this, nuclear’s portion (the yellow line) has held steady.

Recessions reduce demand for electricity. It appears that, when the next recession hits, demand for nuclear power, with its status as a baseload provider, will remain strong.

Electricity prices in general will decline. There’ll be pressure for nuclear plants to lower rates. But variable sources of electricity like coal and natural gas will compete hardest to remain online amidst falling demand.

To read the original article, click here. 

One thought on “Power generation is down. Guess what’s happened to nuclear’s share?

  1. I was working at the new Moss Landing combined cycle power station on the CA coast in Sept 2001. We had the T-G operating and producing power and were tweaking our tuning parameters when we got a call from the customer telling us to shut down. They had just realized that selling the natural gas was more profitable than selling electricity. That’s when I learned about “spot prices.” Gary Winters—EE Power Plant Startup

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