Westinghouse is developing innovative nuclear technologies that will enable the world to share the benefits of reliable, clean, safe and economical energy for generations to come
The United Nations states it simply: “Energy is central to nearly every major challenge and opportunity the world faces today.” Over the next 20 years, the world’s population is expected to grow 25% and, by 2030, demand for electricity will nearly double.
Meanwhile, the world’s current energy production practices are unsustainable. Electricity production is the primary source of CO2 emissions, leading to increasing global temperatures, melting polar ice sheets and rising sea levels.
Addressing increasing energy needs while confronting the realities of our changing climate might be the most pressing issue of our time. Yet, the solutions to those two challenges do not need to be in conflict.
Carbon-free Energy for a Carbon-free World
The world is fighting to reverse the devastating impacts of an accelerating change in climate. The Paris Agreement, a legally binding international treaty to combat global climate change, set ambitious goals to limit climate change.
As a result, many countries set net-zero emissions targets, but in some places the world’s largest companies are asking their governments to double-down, fearing the targets are too low. The big question remains: How will the world reach these aggressive goals?
Nuclear is a key part of the solution in the world’s fight against a changing climate. As the world’s largest source of carbon-free energy, nuclear power can help reverse catastrophic climate change trends and meet decarbonization deadlines established by the world’s leading climate scientists.
Nuclear power plants are the world’s largest source of carbon-free energy, while fossil fuel-based electricity generation continually releases tons of greenhouse gases into our atmosphere.
Over the past 50 years, the use of nuclear power has reduced CO2 emissions by more than 60 gigatons – nearly two years’ worth of global energy-related emissions. Every year, nuclear-generated electricity saves our atmosphere more than 506 million metric tons of carbon dioxide that would otherwise come from fossil fuels. That is equal to taking 110 million passenger vehicles off the road.
Reliable Energy + Renewable Energy = A Clean Energy Future
Nuclear plants operate at much higher reliability and capacity factors (a measure of what percentage of the time a power plant produces energy) than renewables or fossil fuels. Nuclear energy runs 24/7/365 days a year, operating at full capacity more than 92% of the time. That is about 1.5 to 2 times more reliable than natural gas (57%) and coal (40%) plants.
Reliability remains an even greater challenge for renewable energy sources. Solar plants operate at full capacity only 25% of the time and wind plants about 35% of the time. As a result, these types of plants experience blackouts and require backup power sources, which are most often provided by coal and gas plants.
Nuclear power plants can cleanly and reliably fill the renewable energy void that intermittent sources such as wind and solar power cannot. By supplementing renewable energy sources with nuclear power, we can create a carbon-free power grid that is always on.
Nuclear Energy: Unmatched Power Density
In addition to its reliability and safety, the power density of nuclear energy is unbeatable. Despite producing massive amounts of carbon-free power, nuclear energy produces more electricity on less land than any other clean-air source. A typical 1,000-megawatt nuclear facility in the United States needs a little more than 1 square mile to operate.
According to the Nuclear Energy Institute, wind farms require 360 times more land area to produce the same amount of electricity; solar plants require 75 times more space. To put that in perspective, you would need more than 3 million solar panels to produce the same amount of power as a typical commercial reactor or more than 430 wind turbines (capacity factor not included).
A typical nuclear reactor produces one gigawatt of electricity – close to the same amount generated by two coal-burning plants or four renewable plants. A single nuclear power reactor generates enough electricity on average to power 755,000 homes without emitting any greenhouses gases.
Notably, one 40-gram uranium fuel pellet – about the size of a gummy bear – creates as much energy as one ton of coal, 149 gallons of oil, or 17,000 cubic feet of natural gas.
Westinghouse Empowers a Cleaner Tomorrow
More than 130 years ago, George Westinghouse revolutionized energy distribution by commercializing alternating current technology and forever changed the way electricity was distributed. His namesake company has been advancing the art, science and safety of nuclear power plant design and operations for more than 60 years.
Today, Westinghouse is leading the way with the development of innovative nuclear technologies that will enable the world to share the benefits of this reliable, clean, safe and economical source of energy for generations to come. Every day, Westinghouse strives to shape tomorrow’s energy, saving our atmosphere from millions of metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions.
Westinghouse continues to invest and innovate to enable nuclear energy to be part of the sustainable energy mix, especially as energy systems are transforming to integrate more renewables and demanding smaller reactors for different applications.
For example, Westinghouse set a remarkable industry standard with its new generation of nuclear plants. The AP1000® plant is easier and less expensive to build, and provides unequaled economic competitiveness with improved, more efficient operations. At the same time, the safety margins for the AP1000® plant have increased dramatically over currently operating plants.
In addition, Westinghouse is currently developing the eVinci™ Micro Reactor, a next-generation, very small modular reactor for decentralized remote applications. The eVinci Micro Reactor aims to create competitive and resilient power with superior reliability and minimal maintenance.
Its small size allows for standard transportation methods and rapid, on-site deployment in contrast to large, centralized stations. The reactor core is designed to run for three or more years, eliminating the need for frequent refueling.
Finally, the company’s innovative technologies extend to decommissioning and environmental services that are dedicated to reviving, renewing and reimagining retired plant sites into safe, thriving, sustainable community assets.
Facing the Facts: Nuclear Power is a Critical Part of our Energy Solution
Policy and decision makers need to revisit their views on nuclear and examine the evidence-based facts:
- Nuclear is the world’s largest source of carbon-free energy.
- Nuclear energy is – by far – the safest energy source when compared to coal and gas.
- Nuclear energy is the most reliable energy source with plants that run 24/7/365 days a year, operating at full capacity more than 92% of the time.
- The power density of nuclear energy is unbeatable.
- Together, nuclear energy, along with renewables like wind and solar can help to provide a safe, reliable, carbon-free energy future with a grid that is always on.
Supported by decades of data, the choice is clear: nuclear energy is a critical part of the solution to our energy and climate challenges, and nuclear energy can meet the growing demands for renewable energy that wind and solar alone cannot.
Change our Changing Climate
Today, nuclear energy provides nearly 14% of the world’s carbon-free energy, leaving tremendous growth potential. Fortunately, many countries are pursuing nuclear energy to address carbon emissions, air pollution and increasing demands for reliable energy. By choosing nuclear energy, policymakers choose to deliver clean, safe, reliable and carbon-free energy.
Westinghouse is the world’s leading supplier of safe, innovative nuclear technology, operating 430 nuclear reactors around the world and providing nuclear plant products and services to utilities worldwide.
The company’s 9,000 employees provide products, services and technical expertise to nearly half the world’s nuclear power plants. In 19 countries, Westinghouse is designing and supplying safe solutions for clean power while helping customers operate existing plants at the highest level of safety and performance.
The company is well-positioned to continue to partner with policymakers to address their energy needs, create jobs, and exceed their environmental sustainability goals with nuclear energy.
With decades of experience in advancing nuclear technology around the globe, Westinghouse is committed to helping change the world with the clean, safe and reliable energy supply we so desperately need.
 U.S. Energy Information Administration. (2019). International Energy Outlook 2019.
 International Energy Agency. (2019). Nuclear Power in a Clean Energy System.
 Nuclear Energy Institute. https://www.nei.org.
 U.S. Department of Energy. Office of Nuclear Energy. (2021). 5 Fast Facts About Nuclear Energy.
 U.S. Department of Energy. Office of Nuclear Energy. (2021). 3 Reasons Why Nuclear is Clean and Sustainable.
 Nuclear Energy Institute. https://www.nei.org.