After nearly 30 years of stagnation, nuclear power generation may breathe new life again. The death knell sounded for nuclear power here in 1979 with the meltdown of the uranium core at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania, followed by the Chernobyl disaster seven years later, which is said to have driven the final nail into the nuclear coffin. It didn't matter that the containment vessel at Three Mile Island worked as it was supposed to, preventing any significant release of radioactivity, or that Soviet reactors operated within a safety system full of holes.
The Arab oil embargo followed the Three Mile Island event, which created a bleak outlook for the U.S. energy future. However, many believed that the nation didn't need any new giant electric power plants, and that energy efficiency and the development of renewable sources of power would meet energy needs. Of course, this has failed to materialize, as energy needs continue to escalate. For example, about 0.01 % (about 0.5 billion kWh of electricity) of the U.S. total energy consumption came from solar power in 2002, while wind power contributed another 0.27%. Fossil and nuclear fuels still completely dominate the U.S. energy supply.