Pennsylvania and the Future of Nuclear Power


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An overview of Pennsylvania's nuclear industry and the future of nuclear power.

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Pennsylvania and the Future of Nuclear Power

  1. 1. Pennsylvania’s Nuclear Power Industry Sarah Young Digital Media Project Biology 103: Environmental Science
  2. 2. Explanation of Nuclear Power <ul><li>Nuclear power is created through a series of nuclear reactions and a process called fission. During this process, Uranium-235 isotopes absorb neutrons, causing the U-235 to become unstable and split into 2 lighter parts called fission fragments. These 2 new parts are lighter because some of the mass is converted into energy and released as heat. Along with the heat, more neutrons are released. The neutrons continue to disrupt more U-235 atoms in a self-sustaining chain reaction, while the heat from the fission is used to boil water. Boiling water turns turbines and creates electricity, thus generating nuclear power. The leftover fission fragments gather to form nuclear waste, and the safe disposal of this waste is one of the biggest challenges in the nuclear power industry. </li></ul>Source:
  3. 3. Pennsylvania’s Nuclear History: The Main Events ? Penn State University obtains a license for its TRIGA “Training Research, Isotopes, General Atomics” reactor, creating Pennsylvania’s first nuclear research facility. 1955 1960 Shippingport Power Plant, located in southwestern Pennsylvania, is opened and Pittsburgh becomes the world’s first nuclear-powered city. 1979 Three Mile Island, located near Middletown, experiences a partial meltdown of #2 reactor’s core. Although crisis is averted, the event leads the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to modify its oversight of the entire nuclear industry, with changes centered around emergency response planning, reactor operator training, engineering, and radiation protection. 2003 The NRC grants a 20-year license extension for Peach Bottom Power Plant’s reactors and talks begin about a renewal application for TMI, whose operating license ends in 2014. 1982 Shippingport Power Plant, Pennsylvania’s first nuclear power plant, is decomissioned and Beaver Valley Power Station takes over nuclear service of Pittsburgh and surrounding areas.
  4. 4. Pennsylvania’s Role in the Nuclear World Source: Pennsylvania’s Nuclear Power Generation (millions of kilowatt-hours. Currently, 31 states use commercial nuclear facilities but a third of the country’s nuclear capacity lies in just 4 states: Illinois, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and South Carolina. In terms of total nuclear capacity and generation, Pennsylvania ranks second only to Illinois. As of 2004, 36% of Pennsylvania’s entire electricity market is fueled by nuclear power.
  5. 5. A Tour of Pennsylvania’s Nuclear Facilities Beaver Valley Power Plant Limerick Generating Station Source: Source: Source: Peach Bottom Power Station Source: Susquehanna Nuclear Power Plant Three Mile Island Source: Nuclear Power Plant
  6. 6. Beaver Valley Power Plant Source: <ul><li>Owned and Operated by First Energy Nuclear Operating Corporation </li></ul><ul><li>Site Size: 500 acres </li></ul><ul><li>Total Number of Operating Reactors: 2 Pressurized Light-Water Reactors </li></ul><ul><li>Net Capacity: 1,652 Electrical Megawatts </li></ul><ul><li>Net Generation: 13,970 Million Kilowatt Hours </li></ul><ul><li>Share of State Nuclear Generation: 18% </li></ul>Shippingport, Pennsylvania Return to Main
  7. 7. Peach Bottom Power Station Source: York County, Pennsylvania <ul><li>Owned and Operated by Exelon Corporation </li></ul><ul><li>Site Size: 620 acres </li></ul><ul><li>Total Number of Operating Reactors: 2 Boiling Water Reactors </li></ul><ul><li>Net Capacity: 2,224 Electrical Megawatts </li></ul><ul><li>Net Generation: 18,393 Million Kilowatt Hours </li></ul><ul><li>Share of State Nuclear Generation: 24% </li></ul>Return to Main
  8. 8. Limerick Generating Station Montgomery County, Pennsylvania Source: <ul><li>Owned and Operated by Exelon Corporation </li></ul><ul><li>Site Size: 600 acres </li></ul><ul><li>Total Number of Operating Reactors: 2 Boiling Water Reactors </li></ul><ul><li>Net Capacity: 2,268 Electrical Megawatts </li></ul><ul><li>Net Generation: 18,906 Million Kilowatt Hours </li></ul><ul><li>Share of State Nuclear Generation: 25% </li></ul>Return to Main
  9. 9. Susquehanna Nuclear Power Plant Luzerne County, Pennsylvania Source: <ul><li>Jointly Owned by Pennsylvania Power & Light and Allegheny Electric </li></ul><ul><li>Cooperative, Operated by PPL Susquehanna, LLC. </li></ul><ul><li>Site Size: 1,075 acres </li></ul><ul><li>Total Number of Operating Reactors: 2 Boiling Water Reactors </li></ul><ul><li>Net Capacity: 2,275 Electrical Megawatts </li></ul><ul><li>Net Generation: 18,264 Million Kilowatt Hours </li></ul><ul><li>Share of State Nuclear Generation: 23% </li></ul>Return to Main
  10. 10. Three Mile Island Nuclear Power Plant Harrisburg, Pennsylvania <ul><li>Owned and Operated by Exelon Corporation </li></ul><ul><li>Site Size: 814 acres </li></ul><ul><li>Total Number of Operating Reactors: 1 Pressurized Light-Water Reactor </li></ul><ul><li>Net Capacity: 810 Electrical Megawatts </li></ul><ul><li>Net Generation: 6,755 Million Kilowatt Hours </li></ul><ul><li>Share of State Nuclear Generation: 9% </li></ul>Source: Return to Main
  11. 11. An Uncertain Future Nuclear Power Pros: Nuclear Power Cons: <ul><li>High and rising capital costs, possibly causing electricity price hikes </li></ul><ul><li>Long construction periods to build new facilities </li></ul><ul><li>Competition with unlimited geothermal, solar, and wind power sources. </li></ul><ul><li>Limited space for safe and secure waste storage </li></ul><ul><li>Location restrictions due to nuclear power’s large-scale water use </li></ul><ul><li>Low operational costs </li></ul><ul><li>Sustainable, carbon-free source of power with zero emissions </li></ul><ul><li>Safer working conditions than electric plants fueled by coal or oil </li></ul><ul><li>Decrease in demand for foreign oil </li></ul><ul><li>Advanced security to ensure safe use and transport of nuclear material </li></ul>
  12. 12. The Wave of the Future Source: Source: Engineers are developing plans for future nuclear facilities that take on a more earth-friendly appearance, like those pictured above and below. “Green” barriers on the plant’s main structures would protect from external hazards and scientists could use bio-skins, sustained by rainwater, to turn cooling towers from an eyesore into a natural feature that changes through the seasons. Nuclear plants of the future may also take the shape of pyramids or function as underwater factories. Undersea facilities have easy access to cooling water while pyramid-shaped plants provide safety against seismic activity. Source: South Africa boasts an innovative, new generation of nuclear power plant called the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor. The reactor encases Uranium or Plutonium in cermic spheres the size of a tennis ball. The heat that is generated is transferred into a helium gas. The pressure from the safe helium gas is then used to turn a turbine and create electricity. To melt the ceramic spheres containing Uranium and release radioactive material, it would take temperatures of 3000°C but the inside only ever rises to temperatures of about 900°C.
  13. 13. Sources “ A Look at the Future of Nuclear Power.” World Nuclear News . 03 Nov. 2008. <>. Lehr, Jay. “Testimony on the Future of Nuclear Power.” The Heartland Institute . 16 Sept. 2008. 16 March 2009 < http :// Nuclear_Power_.html>. Little, E. A. “Development of Radiation Resistance Materials for Advanced Nuclear Power Plant.” Materials Science and Technology 22 (2006): 491-518. Academic Search Premier. EBSCOhost. Harrisburg Area Community College Library, York, PA. 12 Feb. 2009 <>. Romm, Joseph. “The Self-Limiting Future of Nuclear Power.” Center For American Progress Action Fund . 02 June 2008. 16 March 2009 < power_report.html>. Moens, John. “State Nuclear Industry – Pennsylvania.”18 Aug. 2006. Energy Information Administration . 12 Feb. 2009 <>. “ The Future of Nuclear Power.” Massachusetts Institute of Technology . 2003. 16 March 2009 <http://>.