Nuclear Generation - On track to a cleaner energy future.

To the nuclear energy industry, clean energy isn't a new priority. At Duke Energy, we’ve been on track to provide clean, baseload generation to residents and businesses in the Carolinas since Robinson Nuclear Plant came online in 1971 – over 50 years ago. Today, over 8 million of our customers receive their power from our nuclear units. 

That’s why our goal is to keep our units "chugging along" to keep the lights on – dependably, safely, efficiently and cleanly – through subsequent license renewal and exploration of new nuclear technologies. 

During Nuclear Science Week, and every other day of the year, get on-board with us to learn about the value of nuclear. 

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­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Innovations in technology, like drones and robots, make it possible to improve work processes and job efficiency, which directly impacts cost savings, and further improves safety.

Although the nuclear industry has decades of operating experience, the industry is finding new ways to advance nuclear with new nuclear designs, including small modular reactors that take up less space and are less expensive to build, and advanced technologies that are even safer, more efficient and flexible. Learn more about nuclear innovation.

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Did you know that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) places restrictions on the maximum amount of electricity a nuclear power plant can produce? As technology and infrastructure improve, plants will often request an “uprate” to allow a unit to produce more electricity. Today, our 11 units are approved to generate 10,773 MW. Of Duke Energy’s total generation, nuclear accounted for 37% in 2021. And in the Carolinas alone, our nuclear units made up 50% of all generation. That’s a lot of clean energy for the Carolinas! Learn more about nuclear uprates.

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Renewables like solar, hydro and wind partner well with nuclear energy – they’re all working together to reduce greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. As policies continue to develop for decarbonization, we need to keep all carbon-free technologies on the table. By operating 24/7, rain or shine, nuclear is here to carry its share of the load. In 2021, nuclear accounted for 83% of Duke Energy’s carbon-free generation, helping keep us on track. Learn more about the importance of a diverse generation portfolio.

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A very efficient fuel source is used in nuclear generation – uranium. Just one uranium fuel pellet (the size of a pencil eraser or tootsie roll) contains as much energy as one ton of coal, 149 gallons of oil, or 17,000 cubic feet of natural gas. Its efficiency allows the plants to generate a lot of electricity in a small space. 

Transitioning from some traditional sources of energy is key to a cleaner energy future. However, nuclear provides a large amount of energy compared to other clean sources. For example, the Office of Nuclear Energy shared an estimation that it would take 3.125 million PV (solar) panels or 431 utility-scale wind turbines to produce the same amount of power as an average nuclear plant. Learn how other fuel sources measure up.

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Our commitment to a clean energy future goes further than the fuel used to generate electricity – we’ve made a commitment to protecting the environment. Through programs like aquatic studies, teaching educators about the environment and even creating pollinator gardens, our employees ensure that we are doing our part to make the world a better place.

To top it all off, the small footprint of nuclear facilities means more space for plants and wildlife to thrive! Learn more about why nuclear is good for the environment.

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Accounting for 50% of the nation’s carbon-free electricity, nuclear energy can make a huge impact in lowering overall carbon emissions. The release of over 50 million tons of carbon dioxide was avoided last year because our Duke Energy nuclear fleet was operating (as opposed to the same amount of energy being generated by fossil fuels). That’s roughly the same as 10 million cars no longer being on the road. Learn more about nuclear's role in our clean energy transition.

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“We’ll be there, rain or shine,” is a phrase the nuclear industry really means. In scientific terms, we’re talking about capacity factor. It’s a measure of reliability, or how often a plant is running at maximum power. Last year, our fleet matched its record high – 95.72%. Duke Energy’s nuclear fleet has had a capacity factor greater than 90% for 23 consecutive years. Learn more about the reliability of nuclear energy.


Comments (2)

Posted April 23, 2023 by Chateaue
I enjoyed reading your article on nuclear energy's potential as a cleaner energy source. It's interesting to see how nuclear power has evolved over time and how it has the potential to meet our energy demands while also reducing carbon emissions. It's important that we consider all options when it comes to finding sustainable energy sources, and nuclear energy definitely deserves more attention. Thanks for sharing this informative post!.
Posted October 19, 2022 by JOEL TUCHFELD
Thank you for the update. I served on a couple of nuclear subs for six years during the late sixties and early seventies.

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