nuclear prognosis

A reply to a comment by Oekologisch Interressierter who wrote:

I think I read in an article in the new “Oekotest” that the german green party did a study that nuclear energy is not growing. That is there are more reactors to be shut off soon than there reactors that are being built. So the claim that nuclear energy is growing seems to be propaganda of the nuclear industry.

Unfortunately I couldn’t find the study by the german green party you are mentioning. According to the IAEA (which is hopefully a rather neutral source) the current status of the nuclear industry is:

* 441 nuclear power reactors in operation with a total net installed capacity of 374.692 GW(e)
* 5 nuclear power reactors in long term shutdown
* 60 nuclear power reactors under construction

So according to that data nuclear power generation is currently growing. You are right that by looking at the table: Number of Operating Reactors by Age it looks as if there are a lot of reactors to be shut down soon, however it seems the shut-off reactor capacity is going to be replaced fast. From the IAEA, Press Release 2008/11: Nuclear Power Worldwide: Status and Outlook:

Low projection assumes that all nuclear capacity currently under construction or in the development pipeline gets constructed and current policies, such as phaseouts, remain unchanged. In such a scenario there would be growth in nuclear electricity production capacity to 473 gigawatt electrical (GW[e]) from the current 372 GW[e]. (A gigawatt is one billion watts).

The IAEA´s high projection, based on government and corporate announcements about longer-term plans for nuclear investments, as well as potential new national policies, such as responses to new international environmental agreements to combat climate change, estimates nuclear power electricity capacity would grow to 748 GW[e] by 2030.

This was even revised upward in 2009:
IAEA Revises Nuclear Power Projections Upward

2 Responses to “nuclear prognosis”

  1. Oekologisch Interressierter Says:

    Sorry for the late reply but here a newer report with the title: “fAtomkraft ist eine aussterbende Spezies“ by Stefanie Groll on the website of the Heinrich-Boell-Foundation, i.e. the foundation which is related to the green party:

    Die Zahl der neu angefangenen Reaktorbau-Projekte: Von 15 in 2010 auf 3 in 2016, herunter auf einen bis Juli 2017. Diese Rate ist zu niedrig für das Überleben der Atomspezies.

    I translate this as:

    The number of newly started reactor construction projects: From 15 in 2010 to 3 in 2016 down to 1 in July 2017. This rate is too low for the survival of the atomic species.

  2. nad Says:

    The number of reactors is one thing the total capacity another. The WNISR2017 report shows in Fig. 1 (see also Fig. 5 on page 29) that since the Fukushima disaster in 2011 the total nuclear electricity production has been increasing – even if the share stayed roughly constant (similar results from world-nuclear (a pro nuclear website)). The maximum production was in 2006 with 2660 TWh. In 2016 it was 2476 TWh, i.e. only 184 TWh less than the maximum. According to WNISR (Fig.6, p.29) this is a total power of 351 GW net. There are currently 53 plants under construction (also Fig.6, p.29) with a capacity of 52310 MW net (Table 1 p. 31). It is unclear how many reactors will be abandoned when, moreover as the report (p.33) illustrates -construction times are going up. I haven’t found a good overview over decommissions, maybe I oversaw something. 52310 MW is roughly 1/6 th of the current total capacity. There is a lifetime table with the assumption of average 40 years lifetime in Figure 14 p.36.
    According to world-nuclear (a pro nuclear website) the following constructions are planned for the next years (warning I counted them and quickly took the sum without guarantee): 14 reactors for 2018 with 15638 MW gross, 16 reactors in 2019 with 16370 MW gross. For 2020 there are sofar 7 in the planning with 8235 MW gross, so this is 40243 MW gross, i.e. less than the current 52310 MW net and I dont know how to get from MW gross to MW net. I also don’t know whether the more or less recent bankruptsy of Westinghouse has been taken into consideration. Since construction times are going up and since a lot of reactors are overdue for decomissioning it is to expect that nuclear electricity production will be probably rather steeply go down in the intermediate time scale. So in short the strong decrease until 2025 in Fig. 13 looks very plausible and the currently planned reactors (and even reinstalling some of the japanese plants) won’t change much of that overall picture in this time scale.

    An important fact here is however also the type of reactor. As I outlined already in a randform post ten years ago (see also the overview) the current reactor technology won’t be anymore long in use due to peak uranium. So here an overview by world-nuclear about planned fast breeders. The list holds currently 15 reactors planned mostly for mid 2020s deployment.

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