Aging reactors, rise in renewables to cut into nuclear’s share of energy production, according to new industry report

Reuters reported yesterday:

Atomic power’s share of global electricity supply is at the lowest level since the 1980s following the shutdown of Japan’s reactors after the Fukushima disaster, and may fall further without major new plant construction.

The forecast is one of the main conclusions of the World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2014, a draft copy of which was passed to Reuters before general release later on Tuesday.

The report lists a number of factors accounting for the decline:

Rising costs, construction delays, public opposition and aging fleets of reactors will make it difficult for nuclear to reverse the decline in its share of global energy supply, even after two reactors in Japan won provisional approval to restart earlier this month.

Both number of operating nuclear power plants and their percentage of energy production have fallen:

Discounting the bulk of Japan’s 48 reactors due to their long-term outage, the report said the number of operating units in the world has fallen to 388, 50 less than the peak in 2002.

Nuclear’s share of global power generation has fallen to 10.8 percent, down from a high of 17.6 percent in 1996 and the the lowest since the 1980s, it said.

Construction delays have also added to the decline in percentage:

The report also pointed to delays in construction projects, even in China, where the government is strongly pushing for nuclear power to replace heavy carbon emitting coal stations.

Of the 67 reactors under construction globally as at July 2014, at least 49 were experiencing delays and eight had been under construction for 20 years, it said.

The report also factors in shutting down aging nuclear reactors:

The average age of reactors has also increased, rising to more than 28 years, while more than 170 units, or 44 percent of the total, have been operating for more than 30 years or more.

“More than 200 reactors may face shutdown in the coming two decades,” Tatsujiro Suzuki, a former Vice Chairman of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission, said in the foreword of the report.

Also contributing to the decline are new energy sources:

Renewable energy is taking up an increasing share of the energy mix, the report said. Installed solar capacity in China topped operating nuclear capacity, while in Spain more power was generated from wind in 2013 than any other source, beating nuclear for the first time

 

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About Robert Singleton

By day, I work for a call center. In my spare time, I try to save my hometown (and planet) from a nearly constant onslaught of greedheads, lunatics and land developers. I live in a fictional town called Austin, Texas, where I go to way too many meetings.
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