Since 2007, the U.S. economy has been shaking off a deep recession that left many people jobless and companies scrambling to avoid bankruptcy. What may be surprising is the positive impact on our economy from the worldwide growth in nuclear power plant projects.
This formula for success has been simple; new plant construction abroad equals jobs and economic opportunities as U.S. companies provide services and equipment. The U.S. Commerce Department estimates the international market for equipment and services related to export opportunities at $500 to $740 billion over the next 10 years. The positive economic impacts in the U.S. from the international growth in nuclear energy can be summarized in these two points:
- In general, every $1 billion of exports by U.S. companies support 5,000 to 10,000 domestic jobs.
- In rapidly developing countries like China and India, governments are planning for new nuclear generation to meet increased demand for electricity to sustain growth and economic expansion.
According to the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), 66 new nuclear plants are under construction in 14 countries. In addition, 160 new nuclear plants are on order or planned with 329 proposed.
Because of their large scope and technology needs, nuclear generation projects create a broad range of export opportunities for many U.S. companies. For example, a new nuclear project requires approximately:
- 500 to 3,000 nuclear grade valves
- 125 to 250 pumps
- 44 miles of piping
- 300 miles of electric wiring
- 90,000 electrical components.
Many of the countries planning new nuclear plants do not have the required infrastructure or technical expertise to support these efforts. U.S. companies with nuclear design or manufacturing capability are involved with many of these projects, with demand for services expected to grow.
Two new nuclear plant construction projects well underway in the U.S. also are providing a stimulus to the economy. Southern Company.’s Plant Vogtle will have two nuclear units in service by 2017 and SCANA’s V.C. Summer Station will have two units in service by 2019.
In general, the nuclear energy industry provides a wide range of benefits to the U.S. economy:
A new nuclear plant construction project may require up to 3,500 workers at peak construction.
- When the plant is operating, 400 to 700 permanent jobs are needed with average salaries 36 percent higher than the local area.
- Permanent jobs at a nuclear plant can create an equivalent number of local support jobs (retail, dry cleaners, etc.).
- The average nuclear plant generates approximately $470 million a year in total output for the local community and $40 million a year in total labor income.
- The average nuclear plant generates approximately $16 million per year in state and local taxes.
- The average nuclear plant generates approximately $67 million in federal taxes.
The U.S. nuclear industry remains healthy and continues to support the economy at many levels. The new generation of nuclear technology employed at the Vogtle and V.C. Summer construction projects reflects the safety philosophy of existing reactor designs, as well as new safety systems that make already safe nuclear energy even safer.