Carnegie Mellon University
Nuclear Energy Resources

The following nuclear energy resouces provide background information and suggested links for data in global energy, economics, market trends, and frequently asked questions (FAQ).  Compiled and assessed by: Abdullah Agab, Sakshi Mishra, Uros Simovic, Akansha Tyagi, and Yuzhou Wang (2017 updates by Ashwin Kumar Balaji and 2018 updates by Pragya Chauhan)

This report is a joint publication by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Nuclear Energy Agency and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).  This report provides a detailed study of the global uranium supply, global uranium demand and individual reports for different countries. The OECD Nuclear Energy Agency is a group of 34 countries working to maintain and further develop the economical use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. The IAEA is known as the world’s “Atoms for Peace” organization within the United Nations. IAEA was set up in 1957 as the world’s center for cooperation in the nuclear field to promote the safe and peaceful use of nuclear technologies. The information of each country can be found by clicking on the interactive contents page and it redirects the reader to appropriate section. Each country features a brief history of nuclear use, the resources used, production, procurement and detailed policies along with price information. The report provides a comprehensive overview of nuclear resources on a global and national scale and allows for analytical comparisons.

The United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission publishes this report on their website, describing the materials and steps needed to process nuclear fuel. The linked page is split into 3 subheadings: Regulated Materials, Regulated Activities and Responsibilities. The Regulated Materials section contains information about the materials used in fission and byproducts from the nuclear fuel cycle. The Regulated Activities section provides information regarding uranium recovery facilities, fuel cycle facilities, and material transportation. These activities directly deal with the process of extracting uranium from the ground to its processed fuel form. The last section, Responsibilities, briefly outlines the role of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in regulating materials and activities.

This report provides information on uranium resources and reserves, including data of known recoverable resources of uranium by country (in tons of uranium) and the ratio of uranium in different recovery cost category by country (updated September 2016). Related background information is also provided in relation to geology, economics and technology. This website is provided by the World Nuclear Association, intended to “provide encyclopedic coverage of topics related to nuclear power and other nuclear technologies.”

The United States Nuclear Reactor Regulatory Commission (U.S.NRC) provides information about how nuclear reactors work and regulated. The web page is divided into 3 sections: Regulated Reactors, Regulated Activities and Responsibilities. The Regulated Reactors section contains links on how current reactors work, and research regarding developing new reactor models. In addition, the Operating Reactors section has links to how reactors are operated and licensed. The Responsibilities section has links to pages of the different NRC offices located in different regions of the United States outlining their major roles.

This is a database of all nuclear power plants in operation worldwide (except for US, updated to April 2017). The data source is the International Atomic Energy Agency PRIS Database. Data for each nuclear plant includes country, reactor name, reactor type, net capacity (MW) and date connected. This website is provided by the Nuclear Energy Institute, which is a nuclear industry-lobbying group in the US. There is also other useful information on this website, such as nuclear units under construction worldwide, helpful for forecasting future trends of nuclear energy.

The report, 'Japan - International Energy Data and Analysis (January 2015)', which is published by U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), gives the detailed description of current energy scenario in Japan. The EIA is a principal agency of the U.S. Federal Statistical System responsible for collecting, analyzing, and disseminating energy information. The aftermaths of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster in terms of energy portfolio of the country is discussed throughout the report. Specifically, the section titled Electricity (page 12) describes the effects of phasing out nuclear power on the electricity sector. The last paragraph on page 1 describes the negative impacts of phasing out nuclear on the economy of the country.   On the EIA site earch for the keyword “Japan” and one of the results will be this pdf:

The report, 'Technology Roadmap - Nuclear Energy (2015 Edition)', is jointly presented by the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) and the International Energy Agency (EIA). The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Nuclear Energy Agency is a group of 34 countries working to maintain and further develop the economical use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. The section titled Nuclear Energy Progress since 2010 (page 9) describes the construction of Generation III reactors and provides information about newly built reactors by the end of 2014. The section “Vision for deployment to 2050” includes a plot forecasting the energy production by technology based on 2 degrees scenario and 6 degrees scenarios (page 21). Tables  2 on page 24 summarizes the findings of the agencies regarding the global nuclear investment needed for releasing 2 degrees scenario by 2050.

Decommissioning is the process of removing a nuclear power plant from service so that the land could be utilized for other purposes. Its a complex process that could last as long as 60 years. It requires dismantling and decontaminating the nuclear facility. The three major steps involved in decommissioning include determining a strategy i.e. used by the licensee, setting up a schedule and cost estimate and the affirmation that the environment will not be adversely affected by the decommissioning process.

In a nuclear-fueled power plant – much like a fossil-fueled power plant – water is turned into steam, which in turn drives turbine generators to produce electricity. The difference is the source of heat. For nuclear power plants, the heat to make the steam is created when uranium atoms split – called fission. There is no combustion in a nuclear reactor. The first link provided below details this process. A link to an animated image of a functioning boiling water reactor can be found at the end of the webpage of the first link. The second link provided below provides video explaining how nuclear fuel is produced.

The report linked below, “Nuclear Energy Around the World,” states that 30 countries worldwide are operating 435 nuclear reactors for electricity generation and 72 new nuclear plants are under construction in 15 countries (as of May 2014). Nuclear power plants provided 12.3 percent of the world's electricity production in 2012. This information is from the Nuclear Energy Institute (which is a nuclear industry lobbying group in US).

The first link below provides general nuclear energy information for the U.S., including nuclear plant statistics and nuclear electricity companies. Information about former and existing nuclear power plants in the U.S. and detailed data about these plants can also be found on this website.  The second link provided below lists all U.S. nuclear plants locations on a Google map.

Nuclear power plants construction typically involves large infrastructure projects, whose total cost ends up being around $14 billion. This involves EPC cost, Owner cost, financing cost, cost of possible delayed completion, decommissioning cost, waste disposal cost etc. The costs of nuclear power plant is obtained from the same link mentioned below under “Assessing the costs of nuclear power “ and “Capital Costs”.The Levelized cost of electricity for nuclear is mostly driven by the capital costs. In the 2015 edition of the OECD study on Projected costs of Generating Electricity stated that at 3% discount rate, nuclear was cheaper then all its alternatives in all countries. At 7% discount rate it was comparable with coal and cheaper then CCGT. More details for the same can be obtained under Comparing the economies of different forms of electricity generation -

Currently in the United States, there is no central repository.  Nuclear waste generated in the United Stated is stored at or near the nuclear facilities across the country where the nuclear power is produced. There is a common belief that Yucca Mountain is the central Nuclear Waste Repository. However, after nearly two decades of research and federal spending of nearly $6.7 billion, the DOE released a report concluding uncertainties remain with this project. The uncertainties are largely a result of the fact that Nevada ranks third in the country for seismic activity and M.I.T’s Macfarlane points out that there are three volcanic cones located within 10 miles of Yucca Mountain. If one of the volcanos were to erupt, it would essentially expel nuclear reactive material.  The link below provides additional details.