Eight of the ten most productive power plants in America were nuclear plants in 2020

Nuclear power plants are the most productive forms of electricity generation on America’s electric grid.

According to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, nuclear power plants produced 92.4 percent of their potential output, typically referred to as a “capacity factor” in energy lingo, making them the most productive on the grid.

Given the high productivity of nuclear plants, it should come as no surprise that eight of the top ten power plants were nuclear plants in terms of megawatt hours of electricity generated.

It’s worth noting that the capacity factors for dispatchable nuclear, coal, and natural gas plants are fundamentally different than those for non-dispatchable wind and solar because natural gas and coal plants could run at higher rates if needed.

All we would need to do is burn more fuel. Wind and solar, on the other hand, only produce electricity if and when the weather is cooperating. That means we get what we get with these electricity generation sources.

Wind and solar advocates often claim that the low productivity of wind and solar can be offset by building more wind and solar facilities. American Experiment’s research has found that this is an unreliable and expensive course of action.

We should be building a small number of highly productive power plants to meet our energy needs, not a large number of highly unproductive plants. Only then can we have reliable, affordable energy with increasingly lower emissions.

Unfortunately, liberal lawmakers in the Minnesota House of Representatives refused to even hear a bill that would legalize the construction of new nuclear power plants in Minnesota last session, and Governor Walz’s recently-released Climate Action Framework doesn’t even mention lifting the nuclear power ban.

This omission means any energy policy put forth by these liberal lawmakers will be doomed to fail. Minnesota will continue to see rising costs and falling reliability unless we have lawmakers in office who are willing rationally evaluate our energy options and legalize nuclear power.