In 2023, six new nuclear reactors will be connected to the grid worldwide, as many as in the previous year. Five reactors were shut down, three of them in the UK. According to the Society for Plant and Reactor Safety (GRS), the installed electrical net output of nuclear power plants increased by 4089 MW to 378,314 MW. In a current dossier on the situation of nuclear power, it takes into account, among other things, figures from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the World Nuclear Industry Status Report (WNISR).
According to IAEA figures, there are currently 422 nuclear reactors in operation worldwide with an average age from the day of commercial power operation of around 31 years. 57 blocks are currently under construction, 204 have been decommissioned or are currently being dismantled. In the WNISR, fewer active reactors are reported with 411, since the “Suspended Operation” mode is defined differently here. These are reactors that have been shut down for a long time but have not yet been finally shut down. Most of these reactors are in Japan.
The share of nuclear power in global electricity production has been between 10 and 11 percent in recent years. Last year it fell below the 10 percent mark for the first time in 40 years. The record high of 17.5 percent dates back to 1996. The relative share has fallen because renewable energies have been expanded and above all because fossil power plants based on coal, oil and gas produce significantly more electricity in absolute terms than in the past Years and decades, explains GRS.
Some states rely on SMR
Most of the new reactor blocks are being built in Asia, while most of the reactors being dismantled are in Western Europe and North America. “Accordingly, the average age of the reactors in Asia is comparatively low,” comments GRS. In addition, new reactor blocks have an average higher output than the decommissioned ones, so despite a reduction in the number of reactor blocks, the installed output can increase. An exception would be the Small Modular Reactors (SMR), although these are not yet used commercially.
There are 173 reactors in operation in Europe, the average age is 34.2 years. 16 reactors are currently being built and 124 are being dismantled. Three reactors are still running in Germany, Emsland, Isar 2 and Neckarwestheim 2. They were actually supposed to be shut down by the end of 2022, but because of the energy crisis triggered by Russia’s war in Ukraine, they were put into extended operation, which is scheduled to end on April 15, 2023 .
GRS emphasizes that in addition to the nuclear power plants that are still in operation in Germany, there are still six research reactors that should continue to be operated. The same applies to the nuclear supply and disposal systems. In addition to the interim and final storage facilities for radioactive waste, these include the fuel element production plant in Lingen and the uranium enrichment plant in Gronau. In Europe as a whole, 21 percent of electricity is generated with nuclear power. Nuclear power has the largest share of the energy mix in France, the 56 reactors contributed almost 70 percent in 2021. This proportion is likely to be lower in 2022 due to various problems with the nuclear power plants.
100 years term?
Most nuclear reactors in any country are in the US at 92. They were used to generate almost 20 percent of the electricity there in 2022. On average, US nuclear power plants are almost 42 years old. According to GRS, it has already been decided to extend the service life of most of the reactors from 40 to 60 years, a further extension to 80 years has already been approved for six reactor blocks, and a service life of more than 100 years is being considered.
New nuclear power plant projects running worldwide. With its technology, Russia has played a large part in this.
US President Joe Biden wants to promote the development of new reactor concepts, especially SMR. France is providing one billion euros for the development of the SMR Nuward, and Great Britain is also interested in this type of reactor, which Rolls-Royce, among others, wants to develop. Plans for “mini nuclear power plants” have also been made public in Belgium, the Czech Republic and China, and construction of two SMRs has begun in Russia.
The 57 nuclear reactors in China contribute 5 percent to electricity production there. Together they have an average age of 9.2 years. In 2022, two new reactors were put into operation in China, 18 new reactor blocks of various types are currently being built, including various PWR types, including high-temperature reactors, fast breeder reactors or SMR. In South Korea, 25 reactors contribute 28 percent to the electricity mix, in Japan the share of nuclear power is 7 percent. There are currently 17 nuclear power plants on the grid, 27 are being dismantled. The Japanese government wants to increase the share of nuclear power in the electricity mix to around 22 percent by 2030.
To home page
Leave a Reply