Survey of Energy Resources 2007
Nuclear Power Today
Nuclear Power Plants in Operation and Under Construction
Worldwide, at the beginning of 2007, there were 435 nuclear power reactors in operation, totalling 367 GWe of generating capacity. In 2005 nuclear power supplied about 16% of the world's electricity. Data for 2006 are likely to show a decrease in this percentage, as retirements during the year exceeded new capacity brought on line, while total electrical generating capacity (nuclear power plus all other sources) continued to grow at almost 4% per year. The world's fleet of nuclear power reactors maintained a high average availability factor of 83% (Fig. 6-8 ) which in 2006 allowed a record production of 2 658 TWh. Moreover, the past increase in availability factors that has helped keep the nuclear share relatively stable for the last 15 years, despite limited investment in new build, appears currently to have plateaued.
Two new reactors were connected to the grid in 2006, one in China and one in India. This compares with four new connections in 2005 (plus the reconnection of one laid-up reactor) and five new connections in 2004 (plus one reconnection). There were eight nuclear power reactor retirements in 2006: the two Kozloduy Units 3 & 4 in Bulgaria and Bohunice-1 in Slovakia, in compliance with the accession arrangements with the European Union, the UK's four oldest reactors at Dungeness A and Sizewell A after more than 40 years of operation, and José Cabrera-1 in Spain. This compares with two retirements in 2005 and five in 2004. The resulting net decrease in global nuclear generating capacity during 2006 was 806 MWe.
Using the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) definition that construction begins with the first pouring of concrete, there were three construction starts in 2006: Lingao-4 (1 000 MWe) and Qinshan II-3 (610 MWe) in China, and Shin Kori-1 (960 MWe) in the Republic of Korea. In addition, active construction resumed at Beloyarsk-4 in Russia.
Nuclear Capacity Expansion
Current expansion, as well as near-term and long-term growth prospects, remains centred in Asia. Of the 31 reactors under construction at end-2006, 17 were in Asia and 26 of the last 36 reactors to have been connected to the grid were likewise in Asia. Increased nuclear capacity in some countries (e.g., the USA, Belgium, Finland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Germany) is the result of uprating existing plants, which can add up to 20% of additional capacity - a highly cost-effective way of bringing new capacity on-line.
In 2006, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) approved eight more licence renewals of 20 years each (for a total licensed life of 60 years for each nuclear power plant), bringing the total number of approved licence renewals to 47 at the end of the year. In the USA there are proposals for over 20 new reactors and the first combined construction and operating licences for these are likely to be applied for in 2007. In the Netherlands, the Government granted a 20-year extension to the Borssele nuclear power plant for a total licensed lifetime of 60 years. The Government also set conditions for new nuclear plants, a shift from the country's earlier nuclear power phase-out policy. The French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) conditionally cleared twenty 1 300 MWe Pressurised Water Reactors (PWR) belonging to Electricité de France (EDF) for an additional ten years of operation, for a total currently licensed period of 30 years. As well, in May 2006 EDF gave the go-ahead for the construction of a 1 600 MWe European Pressurised Water Reactor (EPR) unit at Flamanville at an estimated cost of € 3.3 billion. The Flamanville site already hosts two 1 330 MWe PWRs. In Canada, Point Lepreau received a three-year licence renewal for the period 2009-2011.
The completion date of the project of Teollisuuden Voima Oy (TVO) to build an EPR at the Olkiluoto site in Finland - the first nuclear power plant ordered in Western Europe for 15 years - has been put back by over a year.
Delays have been caused by the concrete used in the new unit's foundations not being in conformity with the specification, as well as delivery problems with subcontractors. Observers suggest that the problems faced in building Olkiluoto-3 are common for a first-of-a-kind plant, especially when most of the subcontractors involved have not worked to nuclear standards for many years, if at all. It is of the utmost importance to build on the lessons learned for future construction projects.Fig. 6-8 (Nuclear power reactors total operating experience to 31 December 2006)