What is nuclear energy?

When atoms split, large amounts of energy called nuclear energy are released in the form of heat.


How does a nuclear power plant work?

Unlike fossil-fueled plants, nuclear power plants do not burn fuel. The heat needed to create steam in a nuclear power plant comes from the splitting of uranium atoms – a process called fission. During fission, even smaller particles of the atom, called neutrons, are released. The neutrons strike other uranium atoms, releasing additional neutrons that in turn split more uranium atoms. This chain reaction provides the heat needed to produce steam and generate electricity.


How safe are nuclear power plants?

Nuclear power plants are very safe. NextEra Energy Resources maintains very high operating standards at its nuclear power plants, and the safety and health of the public and employees are always highest priority. Nuclear power plants are designed to emphasize the reliability of plant systems, redundancy and diversity of plant safety systems, and strong, multiple physical barriers that provide for radiological protection. Nuclear power operations also are monitored and regulated every day by U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission inspectors stationed at each site. Industry groups also promote excellent performance and share procedural and safety lessons learned by member companies.


What security measures are in place to protect nuclear power plants?

The nuclear energy industry is one of the few industries whose security program is regulated by the federal government. Nuclear power plants are the most secure industrial facilities in the United States, including robust physical barriers such as concrete barriers and crash-resistant gates, a comprehensive security program that includes high-tech intrusion detection and alarm systems, as well as highly qualified security officers who meet rigorous federal requirements.


How many nuclear plants are operating in the world? In the United States?

There are approximately 450 nuclear power plants operating in 30 countries worldwide, providing about 11 percent of the world's electricity production. In the United States, there are 99 nuclear reactors that provide nearly 20 percent of America's electricity. NextEra Energy, Inc., operates five nuclear power plants – St. Lucie and Turkey Point plants in south Florida, Seabrook Station in New Hampshire, Duane Arnold in Iowa, and Point Beach in Wisconsin.


What portion of NextEra Energy Resources' portfolio does nuclear energy generation represent?

Nuclear energy accounts for approximately 13 percent of NextEra Energy Resources’ total portfolio.


How many nuclear power plants does NextEra Energy Resources operate?

NextEra Energy Resources operates three nuclear power plants: Seabrook Station, a 1,250-megawatt pressurized water reactor located in New Hampshire; Duane Arnold Energy Center, a 615-megawatt boiling water reactor located in Iowa; and Point Beach Nuclear Plant, a 1,200-megawatt pressurized water reactor, in Wisconsin.

What is natural gas?

Natural gas is a fossil fuel like oil and coal. It is a "non-renewable" fuel because it takes millions of years to form deep in the earth before it can be used again. When microorganisms, sea plants and animals died over 300 million years ago, even before the dinosaurs, they settled on the bottom of the oceans, which covered most of the earth. This material built up as layers over time, and the pressure and heat from the earth turned them into petroleum and natural gas. The natural gas would get trapped in pockets of underground rocks.


How is natural gas found?

Geologists locate the types of rock that are usually found near gas deposits, and testing is conducted. If the site seems promising, drilling begins. Some of these areas are on land but many are deep in the ocean. Once gas is found, it flows up through the well to the ground's surface and into large pipelines.


Why is natural gas considered one of the cleanest-burning fuels?

Natural gas has fewer emissions of sulfur, carbon and nitrogen than coal or oil. It also has almost no ash particles left after burning. This is one reason that natural gas is an attractive energy source, especially for electricity generation. (Source: Energy Information Administration)