The quiet nuclear renaissance is already under way


The map shows the commercial nuclear power pla...

Commercial and planned nuclear plants around the world: Wikipedia


In spite of political posturing of many kinds,  nuclear power capacity worldwide is steadily increasing  with 58 reactors under construction in 15 countries. Most reactors on order or planned are in Asia, though there are plans for new units in 65 countries. In many countries which already have nuclear plants in operation significant capacity addition is being created by plant upgrading.

Quietly, the nuclear renaissance is already under way and the lead is in Asia.

The 2nd International Conference on Asian Nuclear Prospects 2010 (ANUP 2010) gets under way tomorrow at Mahabalipuram near Chennai, India.

Speaking on the occasion, chairman, Indian Atomic Energy Commission, and secretary department of atomic energy Srikumar Banerjee said that the major issue facing the sector was waste management.  R.K. Sinha, vice president, Indian Nuclear Society and director, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, said around six new countries are interested to have atomic power plant and many of them will have one by 2030.

Of the 58 nuclear reactors currently under construction world-wide, 35 are in Asia (23 in China, 6 in Korea, 4 in India and 2 in Japan).

The Deputy Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Y.A. Sokolov said that current nuclear expansion remains centred in Asia. Of the twelve constructions started in 2009, ten were in Asia.

In addition to the new plants under construction, numerous power reactors in USA, Belgium, Sweden and Germany, for example, have had their generating capacity increased. In Switzerland, the capacity of its five reactors has been increased by 12.3%. In the USA, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved 126 uprates totalling some 5600 MWe since 1977, a few of them “extended uprates” of up to 20%. Spain has had a program to add 810 MWe (11%) to its nuclear capacity through upgrading its nine reactors by up to 13%.  Some 519 MWe of the increase is already in place.  For instance, the Almarez nuclear plant is being boosted by more than 5% at a cost of US$ 50 million. Finland boosted the capacity of the original Olkiluoto plant by 29% to 1700 MWe. This plant started with two 660 MWe Swedish BWRs commissioned in 1978 and 1980. It is now licensed to operate to 2018. The Loviisa plant, with two VVER-440 (PWR) reactors, has been uprated by 90 MWe (10%). Sweden is uprating Forsmark plant by 13% (410 MWe) over 2008-10 at a cost of EUR 225 million, and Oskarshamn-3 by 21% to 1450 MWe at a cost of EUR 180 million.

Commissioner William C. Ostendorff, United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission gave the Keynote Address at  the Emerging Issues Policy Forum, Powering the Future 2010 Conference on 4th October in Florida. During his speech he said:

Despite the global financial crisis over the last two years, there still appears to be great interest in nuclear power worldwide. In September, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released its annual nuclear power projections. In these projections, the IAEA estimates that up to 10.4% of global electricity will come from nuclear reactors by the year 2030. This estimate is higher than last year’s estimate, which was up to 9% from nuclear power by 2030. The IAEA also made projections out to the year 2050, which estimated a maximum share of 11.9% from nuclear reactors.

Since the 2008 timeframe, the number of countries interested in the introduction of nuclear power has risen from 43 to about 65. Most of these countries are in Asia and Africa. At the same time, the number of countries planning to phase out their reactors has dropped. For example, you may have read that the German government decided last month to extend the life spans of its nuclear plants while alternative energy sources are developed.

I want to touch on one more subject before I close. I believe that it is important for the public to have trust and confidence in a strong regulator. A recent report from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) compared nuclear accident risks with those from other energy sources. What caught my attention was the impressive safety record of the nuclear industry compared to other energy sectors.

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One Response to “The quiet nuclear renaissance is already under way”

  1. Now UK joins the nuclear renaissance with 8 plants approved « The k2p blog Says:

    […] UK joins the nuclear renaissance with 8 plants approved By ktwop The quiet nuclear renaissance continues with the UK now announcing its […]

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