Global Nuclear Power Snapshot

The World Nuclear Association (WNA) has an informative website with a mine of data that I’ve wanted to extract for some time. This is a first pass to try and capture some of the headlines which are: deployment of nuclear power has in the past depended upon a combination of three factors 1) the size and level of technology development of any country (the leading producers in 2015 were the USA, France, Russia and China) 2) the desire to acquire nuclear weapons that may be linked to large advanced countries wanting to defend themselves and 3) a shortage of fossil fuels (France, Ukraine, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia etc. have the greatest penetration of nuclear in power generation). Let’s begin by looking at the 30 countries that have domestic nuclear power capacity (Figure 1).

Figure 1 The distribution is heavily skewed with only 5 countries producing over 100 billion nuclear kWh in 2015 (USA, France, Russia, China and S Korea). Clearly these five countries dominate the nuclear power landscape. In fact the USA and France produced 1.2 PWh between them in 2015, 51% of the global total. Looking at the other countries on the list we see that it is dominated by OECD and the FSU with only one African nation (S Africa), two S American nations (Brazil and Argentina) and two Islamic nations (Pakistan and Iran) on the list. And of course India is in there too. Data extracted from this table on the WNA web site.

The list reflects the historic and current desire to acquire nuclear weapons (USA, France, Russia, China, UK, India, S Africa, Pakistan ± Iran), combined with the level of technology and educational development in any of these countries to run a nuclear power program. But it is clear that many of these countries could develop nuclear weapons if they wished to do so. 9 out of 29 have already done so.

There are currently 436 operational reactors, with 59 under construction and 172 planned.

Producing a similar plot, but this time ranking countries according to the percentage of electricity derived from nuclear power, produces a rather different and interesting picture.

Figure 2 Ranking countries according to the percent of electricity produced from nuclear power produces this rather interesting distribution that may be viewed as the level of nuclear power commitment. There are five clear groups, six including the zeros. If anyone would like to comment on why this should be so then please do so. France is clear leader with 76.3% of its electricity produced by nuclear power in 2015. This is followed in group 2 (50 to 60%) by Ukraine, Slovakia and Hungary (FSU / E Europe). Group 3 (30 to 40%) has 9 countries, 4 of which are formerly linked to the Soviet Union. Group 4 (10 to 20%) is dominated by the OECD, including the USA, the UK and Germany. Note that relative to Figure 1, the USA, Russia and China are all severely demoted to groups 4 and 5.

We can conclude that looking at absolute production and relative production of nuclear power that two or more major forces are at work.

  1. For absolute production, it is size of economy, technology development, and military / nuclear weapons ambition.
  2. For relative production it is whether or not you had indigenous fossil fuels. In Figure 2, France through Spain (14 of 29 countries) all have little to no oil, gas and coal.
  3. And the secondary variable for relative production is whether or not your were in the sphere of influence of the Soviet Union.
  4. In south Asia, there is a separate competition for nuclear supremacy between India, Pakistan and Iran.

And so let us look to the future. Figure 3 ranked similar to Figure 1, this time on generating capacity, includes new capacity under construction and new planned capacity.

Figure 3 Countries ranked by installed 2015 generating capacity with capacity under construction and planned overlaid. 

There are five key observations to be made from Figure 3.

  1. China, Russia, S Korea, India and Pakistan are the only countries seriously planning near term expansion of their nuclear power capacity.
  2. Belarus and the UAE are the only non-nuclear countries actively building reactors and set to join the nuclear club. Belarus is a member of the FSU. Oil rich UAE, the most interesting newcomer must surely value nuclear power more than oil, which is currently burned to generate electricity.
  3. Japan in is in a state of nuclear schizophrenia, with most of its giant nuclear fleet stationary, it has reactors under construction and even more planned.
  4. The OECD in general has a tepid response to nuclear renewal (excluding S Korea). The USA and the UK are dipping their toes in the water.
  5. There are 9 countries, Bangladesh to Vietnam planning to join the civilian nuclear power club .

It was not easy to find the current fleet decommissioning schedule on the WNA website so it is not possible for me to produce any kind of nuclear forecast right now. All I can conclude is that nuclear power is enjoying a very patchy and stuttering renaissance mainly in China, Russia, South Korea and India. The first three of these countries are all vendors of new nuclear power plant technology.

[09:30 Friday 22 July: Commenter jfon picked up that Brazil was omitted from the charts. The charts have now been updated to include Brazil giving a total of 30 nuclear countries]

 

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51 Responses to Global Nuclear Power Snapshot

  1. 2) the desire to acquire nuclear weapons that may be linked to large advanced countries wanting to defend themselves

    There is no meaningful link between commercial reactor operation and nuclear weapons production. Modern commercial power reactors are not used to make weapons grade material. Note that some of the nuclear powers still don’t have nuclear power stations.

    • Euan Mearns says:

      See my reply to Alex down thread. Can you name the nuclear weapons powers that don’t have civilian power stations. And can you name the countries that have civilian reactors that also have command over the fuel enrichment cycle. I’ll kick off with USA, Russia, China, UK and France (the permanent members) that do. India and Pakistan presumably do. Iran does.

      • jacobress says:

        A big part (if not most) of the nuclear fuel used by the reactors comes from decommissioned nuclear weapons, processed in plants in the nuclear weapons power countries.

        • Syndroma says:

          It was somewhat true when the HEU-LEU agreement was in action. Half of US reactors were fueled from Russian HEU stockpiles. But it’s not the same as the plutonium from decommissioned nuclear weapons. To use that you need a MOX fuel plant.

          • jfon says:

            ..or a fast reactor. Russia has been honouring its agreement to burn surplus weapons grade plutonium by building the BN800 sodium-cooled reactor, whereas the US seems to have stalled in building a Mox fuel plant.

          • Syndroma says:

            You need a MOX fuel plant for a fast reactor too. BN-800 first fuel load is mostly HEU because the MOX plant came online only this year.

        • robertok06 says:

          Not true. The IAEA annual reports tell a different story.
          The EURATOM annual report for the fuel cycle of EU reactors tells a different story too.
          Enough of urban legends and myth on nuclear power, please!

      • Alex says:

        I think the only valid concern is that a country in full mastery of civilian nuclear technology could build a bomb.

        Think Japan and South Korea. If they wanted to, they could build a bomb in a year – despite US imposed restrictions on South Korea reprocessing nuclear fuel. Could a similarly advanced nation – say Australia – build a bomb in a year? Probably not – at least not without help.

        But the response has to be in making it less desirable to have a bomb. So far, Japan and South Korea haven’t felt the need for nuclear weapons – partly because they can rely on America.

        The other response may be to push for all fuel processing to be done in a handful of countries – but which countries? – and allowing everyone to have a nuclear reactor.

  2. Peter Lang says:

    Nuclear power may have been around 1/10th of the current cost [1] if not for the effectiveness of the anti-nuclear power protest movement since the mid 1960’s (as distinct from the anti-nuclear weapons protest movement which started much earlier) [2]

    [1] Peter Lang, 2016. ‘Nuclear power learning rates: Policy Implications’. https://judithcurry.com/2016/03/13/nuclear-power-learning-rates-policy-implications/

    [2] Daubert and Morann, 1985. ‘Origins goal and tactics of the U.S. anti-nuclear protest movement.’ https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/notes/2005/N2192.pdf

    • mark4asp says:

      The anti-nuclear power movement is itself just an effect of Malthusian ideas (obsession over limits), which predates it, and will live long past it.

      Who killed nuclear power and why?

      1) In trying to answer the question, we look at who is most opposed to it today: the Green movement. Look back to the period when the green movement moved against nuclear power (late 1960s/early 1970s). The ‘Club of Rome’ began in 1968. Friends of the Earth, FotE, in 1969. The term ‘Renewable Energy’ first appears in print in 1971 in Scientific American. FotE first employee was Amory Lovins who became the renewable energy guru. Before he was ever a renewable energy guru, he tried to become the anti-nuclear power guru. Five of his books have ‘nuclear’ in the title: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amory_Lovins#Books In Australia, FotE established CANE : The Campaign Against Nuclear Energy, in 1976 : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Campaign_Against_Nuclear_Energy It went on to have a major effect in Australia – one of two countries in the world to ban nuclear power early on (the other was Austria). Their motive is population control: by limiting energy use, they would stop population growth. Not necessarily an argument you’ll often hear them make.

      This explanation is promoted by ecomodernists at Environmental Progress, The Breakthrough Institute, etc. Many are ex-greens. Other ex-greens also support this premise. PS: by ‘ex-green’ I mean ex- mainstream green. In story is most convincingly told by Michael Shellenberger (himself once an anti-nuclear activist working to ‘constipate’ nuclear power by promoting arguments against nuclear waste). The weakness of this argument is it does not give due credence to funds giving greens so much influence (see: Steve Malanga, and Donald Gibson), nor on other political factors at work (see Marsha Freeman), nor Malthusian ideas already widespread in society, nor why the late 1960s/ early 1970s were pivotal. The Green Movement became intellectual victims of Malthusian ideas (see Gibson, page 78).

      2) US neo-Cons under the influence of Albert Wohlstetter. These were a small number, perhaps only a dozen, ex-liberals, who turned to conservatism in the late 1960s/early 1970s to occupy influential positions in government. Their argument was anti-proliferation. Anti-proliferation was cited by Carter Democrats in 1977 for stopping breeder reactors, and Clinton Democrats in 1994 when they stopped all US government research into nuclear power. It became a major plank of US foreign policy. All nuclear vendors had to buy into the notion of the ‘cradle to grave’ nuclear fuel cycle which limited enrichment, breeder reactors, and reprocessing technologies. In politics, bomb proliferation was portrayed as the major threat to world peace and security.

      3) Fossil fuel lobbyists. The Atomic Energy Commission, AEC, lost control of nuclear regulation in 1974 when the US created the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, NRC, in response to Fossil Fuel lobbying. The NRC had the sole responsibility to make nuclear power as safe as possible. Previously: the AEC had a dual mandate: to promote safe nuclear power. In response to NRC creation, investment in new US nuclear plants vanished overnight. The NRC licensed no new nuclear plants for decades. This argument is popularized by blogger Rod Adams, AKA atomic rod.

      4) But surely the reader objects: it was public fear in response to the ‘disasters’ of Windscale, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima Daiichi? No. Public fear in response to the Banqiao Dam disaster of 1975, which eventually killed 171,000 people, did not kill hydroelectricity. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banqiao_Dam The ‘disasters’ above were responsible for less than 60 deaths caused by radiation.

      A lot of people are very confused about what stopped nuclear power. In citing these points above it looks like I’m just adding to confusion. The failure of nuclear power had nothing at all to do with Three Mile Island, Chernobyl nor Fukushima. In 1978, an Austrian referendum on nuclear power saw 49.5% vote for and 50.5% against nuclear power in Austria. This stopped nuclear power in Austria before the Three Mile Island incident of 1979. What’s so special about Austria? It was the Adolf Hitler’s birthplace. His green political movement: the Nazis began the Second World War under the influence of Malthusian ideas. See “Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning”, 2015, by Timothy Snyder https://www.amazon.com/dp/1101903457/

      What have all these anti-nuke ideas in common? Under whose banner do they rally? The common factor is Malthus. I use Malthus in the wide sense as an obsession with economic limits. None of these arguments above exclude others. The promotion of Malthus, beginning in earnest, in 1968 with the ‘Club of Rome’, does not exclude anti-nuke contributions from the fossil fuel industry, neo-cons, ex- peace-movement anti-nukes, and deep greens. It welcomes such efforts, and funds them. There were anti-nuclear power people before 1968 but FotE (1969) were the first to dedicate themselves to the task. Late 1960s was a pivotal point leading to an early 1970s tip, which got us where we are today.

      * Why environmentalists changed their mind on nuclear, by Michael Shellenberger : http://epillinois.org/news/2016/5/1/why-environmentalists-changed-their-mind-on-nuclear
      * The Green Behind California’s Greens, by Steven Malanga : http://www.city-journal.org/html/green-behind-california%E2%80%99s-greens-13716.html
      * Neo-Cons, Not Carter, Killed Nuclear Energy, by Marjorie Mazel Hecht : http://www.21stcenturysciencetech.com/2006_articles/spring%202006/Special_Report.pdf
      * “Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning”, 2015, by Timothy Snyder https://www.amazon.com/dp/1101903457/
      * Who Killed U.S. Nuclear Power?, by Marsha Freeman : http://www.21stcenturysciencetech.com/articles/spring01/nuclear_power.html
      * “Ecology, Ideology, and Power”, by Donald Gibson, 2002, 2014 : https://www.amazon.com/dp/1615775307/

      • Peter Lang says:

        mark4asp,

        Thank you for that informative comment and thanks for the links. I am very interested in the root cause of the disruption to progress of nuclear power – you can clearly see the disruption in the charts here: https://judithcurry.com/2016/03/13/nuclear-power-learning-rates-policy-implications/

      • Euan Mearns says:

        Thanks for this Mark. I of course agree with your’s and Peters comments about Greens, regulation and costs. Those are reasons for not having nuclear power and I was trying to get at the reasons for having it.

        I still see clear links between weapons programs and deployment of civilian reactors if you see my comments else where – correct me if I’m wrong. It is simply put easier to have civilian reactors if you already had a bomb program – at least it was in the 1940s and 50s. But this is where Greenthinking inverts the logic. Having nuclear power leads to bombs. While the actual link is having bombs leads to nuclear power.

        Of course its easy today to have nuclear power without bombs since the technology and fuel can be imported from the countries that do.

        Are you able to list the countries that have full command of the fuel cycle.

  3. Peter Lang says:

    deployment of nuclear power has in the past depended upon a combination of three factors 1) the size and level of technology development of any country (the leading producers in 2015 were the USA, France, Russia and China) 2) the desire to acquire nuclear weapons that may be linked to large advanced countries wanting to defend themselves and 3) a shortage of fossil fuels (France, Ukraine, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia etc. have the greatest penetration of nuclear in power generation).

    Further to my comment above, I’d suggest the main influence on deployment rate of nuclear power globally was the disruption caused by the anti nuclear power protest movement https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/notes/2005/N2192.pdf . Costs were declining up to about 1970 then escalating rapidly https://judithcurry.com/2016/03/13/nuclear-power-learning-rates-policy-implications/ and deployment was accelerating up to about 1976 then decelerating thereafter. The root cause of the problem was then anti nuclear power protest movement. That caused a mass of legislative and regulatory responses that affected the cost of nuclear power everywhere, including Russia. These responses were transmitted to the whole world through IAEA, US example and influence, allowable radiation limits for the public and many other influencers.

    This is a classic example on the effects of regulatory ratcheting on nuclear power costs in the US:

    Bernard Cohen, 1991. Cost of nuclear power plants – what went wrong. http://www.phyast.pitt.edu/~blc/book/chapter9.html

  4. Asteroid Miner says:

    Spent nuclear fuel is not a proliferation risk because a power plant makes the wrong isotopes of plutonium for bombs. To make a good bomb, you need pure plutonium239 [Pu239].

    Isotopes: Any chemical element can come in several isotopes.
    To make Pu239, you have to shut down the reactor and do a fuel cycle after one month or less of operation. Since removing and replacing fuel takes a month, a short-cycled reactor operates half the time. A power plant that has a one month on, one month off fuel cycle would stick out a lot more than the proverbial sore thumb.

    A reactor used to make electricity runs for 18 months to 2 years between refuelings. An individual fuel rod will stay in the reactor for 3 cycles since only ⅓ of the fuel rods are exchanged at each fueling, so one fuel rod stays in the reactor 4.5 to 6 years. In that time, many trans-uranic elements are created. In that time, Pu239 absorbs extra neutrons, becoming Pu240, Pu241, Pu242, 95americium243, 96curium247, 97berkelium247, 98californium251, 99einsteinium25, 100fermium257 and so on.

    All of these higher actinides are good reactor fuel but bad for bomb making. Bombs made of spent fuel have been made and tested once or twice [US and North Korea]. They pre-detonate and fizzle so badly that a very large conventional bomb can equal the yield. They are so radioactive that a poor country can’t build one without killing the scientists. They are militarily worse than useless [Till & Chang book “Plentiful Energy”]. There is no country that has a spent fuel bomb, nor will anybody build one in the future. An insane person trying to build one would die a few seconds to minutes after having acquired the spent fuel.

    7% Pu240 is enough to spoil a bomb and you get a lot more than 7% Pu240 from a reactor that has been running for 18 months. Separating Pu239 from those higher actinides is a technology that has not been developed. Nobody would try to do that separation because the easy way to make Pu239 is with a short cycle reactor. Governments that have plutonium bombs, have government owned government operated [GOGO] reactors that do nothing but make Pu239.

    • SE says:

      “Separating Pu239 from those higher actinides is a technology that has not been developed.”

      Oh really?

      • robertok06 says:

        He’s right.The SCIENCE of it is well known, but nobody can buy such an isotope separator off the shelf, the TECHNOLOGY has not been developed, for lack of market and non-proliferation reasons.

  5. jfon says:

    There seems to be an error in the list of nuclear powered countries – Brazil has two reactors, with a third under construction, and produced about as much nuclear power in 2014 as South Africa or Slovakia. So thirty countries, including all the world’s major economies except Italy and Australia, which have both legislated against it.

  6. Alex Terrell says:

    “For absolute production, it is size of economy, technology development, and military / nuclear weapons ambition.”

    I’m not sure if military / nuclear weapon ambition comes into it. Yes, if you want nulcear bombs, having some reactors and expertise is probably a pre-requisite, unless you can buy them from someone else.

    But large nuclear programs are not based on military goals. France decided to expand nuclear in the 1960s, and carried this out in the 1970s, for security of supply and cost reasons, not bomb making.

    If Japan were included in the list of big producers – as they would be if it weren’t for Fukushima, then it would be clearer that the size of nuclear energy production is not related to the desire to have nuclear weapons.

    • Euan Mearns says:

      I think in the 1940s and 1950s there was a clear link between weapons ambition and civilian nuclear power build. The causative links are three fold. 1) Back then, civilian reactors were designed and used to make the isotopes required for weapons, 2) establishing a weapons program led to development of nuclear skills that could be transferred to the civilian arena and 3) command of the fuel enrichment cycle was technology that was transferable from weapons to the civilian field.

      The latter is the most contentious today where Iran is the best example. I’d be interested to know how many countries with nuclear power have command of the fuel enrichment cycle. I’d guess in the FSU only Russia. I’d imagine that S Korea and Japan will have fuel cycle but only because the UN has absolute trust in these countries. These two countries are the anomalies where large integrated civilian nuclear programs have developed independent of a weapons program.

      Which countries that have nuclear weapons do not have civilian nuclear power? Perhaps Israel? And N Korea? Israel has a nuclear strike capability similar to the UK. I’m not sure where Israel’s weapons came from. Did they make them themselves or did they come from Uncle Sam?

      I think it is likely that the majority of small countries with nuclear power will be dependent upon the large nuclear states for their fuel.

      • SE says:

        Israel got their PU-239 for warheads from the UK in 1966, when Tony Benn was Technology Minister.

      • robertok06 says:

        “I’m not sure where Israel’s weapons came from. Did they make them themselves or did they come from Uncle Sam?”

        France and US.

      • Jose A. says:

        “think in the 1940s and 1950s there was a clear link between weapons ambition and civilian nuclear power build. The causative links are three fold. 1) Back then, civilian reactors were designed and used to make the isotopes required for weapons”

        Wait, what? The USA and the Soviet Union didn’t get the isotopes required for weapons from nuclear power plants.

        “I’d imagine that S Korea and Japan will have fuel cycle but only because the UN has absolute trust in these countries. These two countries are the anomalies where large integrated civilian nuclear programs have developed independent of a weapons program.”

        • Jose A. says:

          THe answer to the second quote was:

          Brazil and Argentina have enrichment programs. It’s not a matter trust, if you’re a NTP signatorie and comply with the safeguards you can develop your own enrichment program. (BTW Argentina so far doesn’t need enriched uranium to run their current power reactors, they run on natural uranium, same goes to Canada)

  7. Syndroma says:

    Euan, it’d be extremely interesting to see charts of fleet age. By individual countries and the world as a whole. A lot of reactors were built in a short timespan in 70s and 80s. And we can assume that they’ll be decommissioned relatively simultaneously. The world nuclear fleet will experience something akin to a collapse in 30s or 40s. The only way to avoid it is to start planning and building replacement plants right now. Ideally, construction process should never stop: there should always be a plant being built to replace an aging one. This ensures that critical institutional knowledge is passed to the next generation.

    Russia plans to decommission 11 RBMK reactors by 2030, their operational lifetime is planned to be around 45 years. RBMKs are located at 3 sites. The first site has 2 new VVERs in an advanced stage of construction, the second one is nearing the “first concrete” stage, and there’re plans for the third site as well. That means that total installed capacity in Russia won’t rise that fast despite significant number of reactors under construction. China has no such legacy, it’ll only build new reactors until the middle of the century when decommissioning starts. And it looks like the West set in nuclear phase out.

    • Euan Mearns says:

      All the data is there on the WNA web site on the history of every reactor apart from the scheduled decommissioning. I agree its an interesting project to do – someone must already have done this though. Perhaps Mark can clarify. Extracting the data for 436 reactors is quite a big job, but once done there’s a lot can be done with the data. The data is also there for the closed reactors – which is just as interesting to have.

  8. jacobress says:

    “The world nuclear fleet will experience something akin to a collapse in 30s or 40s.”

    Yes, that’s inevitable. Speaking of nuclear power we are speaking mainly about a dead horse.

    Maybe trends and technology will change in the next couple of decades, I don’t believe it, but I’m no prophet. Right now – nuclear energy is dead.

    • Willem Post says:

      jacobress,

      “Right now – nuclear energy is dead.”

      From Euan’s article: There are currently 436 operational (power) reactors, with 59 under construction and 172 planned.”

      That is very far from dead.

      The UK will be turning towards nuclear, as will Japan and the countries lacking fossil fuels, and viable access wind and solar resources.

      Sweden Reversed a 30-Year Ban on New Nuclear Plants.

      Sweden was going to phase out its nuclear plants, but found to replace 8849 MW of operating nuclear capacity, it needed to have 22,300 MW of IWTs (lasting at most 25 years), at about $2 million per MW, or $45 billion, PLUS for peaking and filling-in, about 8600 MW of gas-fired CCGT plants (lasting at most 40 years), at about $1.5 million/MW, or $13 billion, PLUS about $6 billion for grid build-outs, for a total of $64 billion. The combined system would produce about 64.8 TWh/y.
      Wind production = 5519 MW x 8760 h/y x CF 0.23 = 11,234 GWh, or 11.234 TWh in 2014; a low capacity factor.
      Wind production = 4469 x 8760 x 0.25 = 9,842 GWh, or 9.842 TWh in 2013; a low CF.

      http://link.springer.com/article/10.1140%2Fepjp%2Fi2016-16173-8
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electricity_sector_in_Sweden
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_in_Sweden
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_power_in_Sweden

      Because wind energy is near zero many hours of the year (in New England and Sweden) and wind peak output is wind-dependent, whereas peak demand is people-dependent, gas-fired back-up plants are needed for peaking and filling-in. Sweden also has a large hydro plant capacity that could perform a part of that service.

      Sweden will get rid of an onerous tax that had been adverse to nuclear, allowing existing reactors to keep running longer; the tax amounted to 25% of production costs. The country’s utilities will also be permitted to build up to 10 new reactors to replace those scheduled to retire, on the SAME sites. This minimizes balance of plant and grid build-out costs. Whether utilities will replace existing reactors is uncertain.

      These two measures reversed a 30-year-old ban on building new nuclear reactors. The 9000 MW of new reactors (lasting at least 60 years) would have a capital cost of about $45 billion, at $5.0 million/MW. The plants would produce about 63.8 TWh/y. The EU and US should take note.

      There was also the question of what to do during Sweden’s winter, when electricity demand for space heating soars, and with IWTs often in shutdown mode, due to extreme cold, and with solar output at near zero during most of the hours of the winter. New England should take note.
      http://www.vox.com/2016/6/17/11950440/sweden-nuclear-power

      • OpenSourceElectricity says:

        A) for low temperature , order turbines equiped for low temperatures, the according turbine equipment is available on the market. Main problem is icing, for this de-icing equipment is available for the turbines.
        Why Sweden with 32.000GWh available capacity in it’s hydropower storages should build a single gas poweres station to balance anything (nuclear, wind,… ) will remain a riddle, it is for sure not economical reasonable.

        • robertok06 says:

          “Why Sweden with 32.000GWh available capacity in it’s hydropower storages should build a single gas poweres station to balance anything (nuclear, wind,… ) will remain a riddle, it is for sure not economical reasonable.”

          Swedes are against new hydro power, and are keen to reduce the number of existing dams, mainly run-of-river type… because they’ve realised the big impact they have on the environment.

        • John ONeill says:

          Sweden has the same problems with hydro as other temperate countries.
          1/ Electricity demand is highest in winter – for heating mainly – but hydro production is lowest, since it’s snowing not raining, and there’s less water for the turbines.
          2/ Some years have much less rainfall than average. Without other power sources you’ll have blackouts.
          New Zealand gets about half its power from hydro; with geothermal and wind we’re getting up to about 80% carbon free power. This is still not as good as Sweden ( with nuclear they’re over 90% carbon free ), but in winter we need to burn gas or coal for up to 40% of output.

      • jim brough says:

        Willem makes important points.
        Wind peak output is wind-dependent, whereas peak demand is people-dependent. The problem exists in Sweden and has happened in sunny Australia.
        Sweden will get rid of an onerous tax that had been adverse to nuclear, allowing existing reactors to keep running longer; the tax amounted to 25% of production costs.
        A negative subsidy ?
        Robbing Peter to pay to pay Paul to our common detriment.

    • robertok06 says:

      “Yes, that’s inevitable. Speaking of nuclear power we are speaking mainly about a dead horse.”

      Horses die and are born, welcome to this two new ponies, in a matter of few days… 🙂

      http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/NN-Fourth-Ningde-unit-enters-commercial-operation-2107165.html

      http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/NN-Grid-connection-for-second-Fangchenggang-unit-1807164.html

      “Right now – nuclear energy is dead.”

      Right now nuclear energy is the first source of electricity generation of the continent… what are you talking about????

    • Leo Smith says:

      That is certainly the perception of anyone who doesn’t know anything about nuclear power.

      But for People Who Do Sums, the matter resolves to nuclear civilisation or no civilisation.
      I wont be around to see which one it will be, but I can assure you, I have spent a lot of time looking, and not found any alternatives to that view.

  9. jacobress says:

    The 436 operating reactors that exist are the result of a building spree in the 1960-70s. This building has stopped dead in the late 1970s, These reactors are old and are going to be retired in the next 2-3 decades, this is inevitable. The few new reactors being built in China, India and Dubai are far from enough to replace the old ones, in volume.
    Nuclear power generation is going to decline sharply in the next decades. This is a fact.
    Nuclear revival, and a new spree of intensive nuclear built-up is nowhere in sight.
    As I said, I’m no prophet (neither is Willem). Trends may change in the future, but now there are no indications of such a change. So, for now, nuclear is dead or dying.

    • ChrisW says:

      Nuclear is certainly not dead; it is a significant source of power world-wide, 10.9% of all electricity is generated by it. France, Ukraine, Slovakia and Hungary each get over 50% of their electricity from nuclear. Nor is it dying. 15% of the number of existing reactors are presently under construction. A further almost 40% of the existing fleet is planned for construction. Presently 55% of the existing number of plants is in the process of becoming an active reactor. Given an expected useful life of around 40 years, that hardly seems like it is dying.

    • John ONeill says:

      ‘These reactors are old and are going to be retired in the next 2-3 decades, this is inevitable.’
      As several others have pointed out, the peak for reactors coming on stream was actually the mid eighties. Since most of them are light water reactors, which can be licensed to 60 years operation, you’re looking at about 2045, barring political interference.With any luck that generation of ‘ aging ‘ reactors will still be cranking it out at 90% capacity factors when most of the seventies era anti-nukes who fought them are popping their clogs. By then the value of reliable, low carbon power will be making itself very obvious. South Korea is currently building plants in four years – they currently have eight underway. S Korea makes up less than two percent of the world’s economy, so a concerted world-wide effort should be capable of easily doubling the current nuclear fleet in one generation. Going to a WW2-style effort, or switching to modular factory production, could replace most fossil fuels about as fast.

  10. robertok06 says:

    “The 436 operating reactors that exist are the result of a building spree in the 1960-70s.”

    Could you write a single fact correctly about nuclear, please?

    This is the timetable of connection to the grid for the 58 French reactors:

    https://fr.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fichier:Chrono-parc-nucleaire-francais.svg

    Question: how many do you see connected in the 60s?
    How many in the 70s?

  11. jacobress says:

    The time it takes for design, licensing and building a reactor is at least 20 years or more.
    Almost no new reactor was initiated (in the West) after about 1975. (Except one in France and one in Finland, both much over time and budget). All reactors that came online later, were ones whose building licence or construction began before that.
    In Russia and the East European block (using Russian reactors) the cut-off date is more or less the fall of communism in 1989.
    The old fleet of reactors is closing down gradually, the new ones being built in places like China, India and Dubai are far fewer that the veteran fleet. Nuclear power is going into a steep decline in the next couple of decades, it is too late to change this trend.
    What will happen after that (after the next couple of decades) is anybody’s guess.

    • Jose A. says:

      “Almost no new reactor was initiated (in the West) after about 1975. (Except one in France and one in Finland, both much over time and budget). All reactors that came online later, were ones whose building licence or construction began before that.”

      Almost all current french nuclear reactors started construction after 1975, 3 different designs (4 with the EPR in Flamanville).

    • Greg Kaan says:

      The AP1000 NPPs in China will come online about 9 years after beginning of site preparation. The ones in the USA will take longer overall due to being first of type and greater regulatory oversight but will still be around a decade.

      Do not use the EPF builds and post TMI USA builds like Watts Bar 2 as a guide for NPP deployment times.

  12. jacobress says:

    I’m using Flamanville and Olkiluoto.
    “will come online about 9 years “.. promises.

    • Greg Kaan says:

      Sorry, I miskeyed my previous response – I meant EPR, not EPF.
      Flamanville and Olkiluoto are EPRs which seem to be inordinately difficult to build, largely due to the complex safety systems and large size (needed to offset the complexity), causing cost and time blowouts. This suggests the EPR will not be commercially successful.

      I am saying the EPR is atypical of current designs so your estimates are pessimistic.

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