Almost 60 years since the world’s first commercial nuclear power station began to deliver power to the UK’s grid, the industry remains as far from being able to cover its costs as ever, writes Pete Dolack. But while unfunded liabilities increase year by year, governments are still willing to commit their taxpayers’ billions to new nuclear plants with no hope of ever being viable. The entire industry would not exist without massive government subsidies. Quite an insult: Subsidies prop up an industry that points a dagger at the heart of the communities where ever it operates. A Union of Concerned Scientists paper, Nuclear Power: Still Not Viable Without Subsidies, states: “Despite the profoundly poor investment experience with taxpayer subsidies to nuclear plants over the past 50 years, the objectives of these new subsidies are precisely the same as the earlier subsidies: to reduce the private cost of capital for new nuclear reactors and to shift the long-term, often multi-generational risks of the nuclear fuel cycle away from investors. And once again, these subsidies to new reactors-whether publicly or privately owned-could end up exceeding the value of the power produced.” Significant cost overruns are the norm in building nuclear power plants, and it isn’t investors who are on the hook for them. Three nuclear projects are under construction in the United States and two in Western Europe, a group that features an assortment of cost overruns and generous guarantees.
Ecologist 4th Jan 2016 read more »
In 2015, a total of ten new nuclear reactors were connected to the world’s grids, more than in any year since 1990. Two reactors were closed, Grafenrheinfeld in Germany and Wylfa in the United Kingdom. As of 1 January 2016, a total of 398 reactors—eight more than a year ago, but 40 less than in 2002—were operating in 31 countries. Two reactors, Sendai-1 and -2, were restarted in Japan, the first since the country was shaken by the triple disaster earthquake-tsunami-radioactive fallout on the coast line of Fukushima in 2011. Most of the Japanese reactors, 38 units, remain in Long-Term Outage (LTO). An additional reactor in Belgium, Doel-1, was restarted after the Belgian nuclear phase-out legislation was amended in order to extend the lifetimes of Doel units 1 and 2 by ten years. However, the decision does not affect the legal date for nuclear phase-out completion in 2025.
World Nuclear Industry Status Report 5th Jan 2016 read more »
Global nuclear generating capacity increased slightly in 2015 as 10 new reactors began supplying electricity and eight were permanently shut down, according to World Nuclear Association data. Last year saw new reactors with total capacity of 9497 MWe connected to the grid, up from the 4763 MWe added in 2014. China added eight units, which were, in month order: Fangjiashan 2, Yangjiang 2, Hongyanhe 3, Ningde 3, Fuqing 2, Yangjiang 3, Fangchenggang 1 and Changjiang 1. South Korea and Russia added Shin Wolsong 2 and Beloyarsk 4. Uprates saw a further 484 MWe added. South Korea, the USA and Sweden accounted for 19 MWe, 290 MWe and 175 MWe of this total. There were two downrates, of 19 MWe each, at South Korea’s Wolsong 3 and 4.
World Nuclear News 4th Jan 2016 read more »
Efforts to speed carbon cuts pledged under the Paris climate deal will require a fast, mass mobilisation of low carbon technology at costs that can be competitive with coal, a task to which nuclear power will likely be unsuited. So says a new version of the World Nuclear Energy Industry Status Report, which tracks developments in the sector and provides outlooks based on developments energy and climate policy. Time is the main enemy of the world nuclear industry, says Mycle Schneider, the author of the report which had its abridged version published in Beijing this week. “Everyone needs to speed up energy transition, and cheap quick technology is going to be the first choice,” he said, pointing to figures in the report which indicate that 70% of the 60 or so reactors currently worldwide are delayed. Five of these have been listed as “under construction” for over 30 years. The 40 reactor units built between 2005 and July 2015 had an average construction time of 9.4 years, suggesting that a fast-roll of the technology in future decades is highly unlikely.
China Dialogue 22nd Dec 2015 read more »