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Nuclear Power: Part of the Net-Zero Solution

When you hear about the goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, what first comes to mind is solar panels, wind turbines and dams, but nuclear plants are a big part of the solution. According the U.S. Department of Energy, nuclear makes up approximately half of the 40% of electricity generated, which is considered low carbon producing means or clean energy.

So what qualifies it as clean energy?

Nuclear is a zero-emission energy source. It generates power through fission, which is the process of splitting uranium atoms to produce energy. The heat released by fission is used to create steam that spins a turbine to generate electricity.

Its land footprint is small. A typical 1,000-megawatt nuclear facility in the United States needs a little more than one square mile to operate.

Barnhart removing and replacing a feedwater heater at a nuclear plant.

Nuclear energy produces minimal waste. According the Department of Energy, the U.S. generates about 2,000 metric tons of spent fuel each year, which amounts to roughly less than half the volume of an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

In an effort to meet the goals by municipalities, states and the U.S. Government of being net-zero, all methods will play their part. Hydro, wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, hydrogen, and nuclear will continue to play an important role in the growing need for clean, reliable electricity.