There are currently 435 operational nuclear power reactors in 30 countries around the world and 72 are under construction in 15 countries. Nuclear power generated 2359 terawatt-hours (TW·h) of electricity in 2013, corresponding to less than 11% of world electricity production, the lowest value since 1982. The share of renewable energy continues to expand, but fossil fuels, especially coal, are still the global fuel of choice. Global nuclear electricity generation in 2013 was 2359 TW·h, 220 TW·h less than the average for the first decade of the 21st century. This drop resulted mainly from decreases due to permanent and temporary shutdowns in Japan (266 TW·h), permanent shutdowns in Germany (41 TW·h) and the USA (17 TW·h), offset partly by increases in China (34 TW·h) and other countries.
Wind/solar and other is at 3.4%, hydro is at 16.1% [mainly in China]
The IAEA low projection reflects a continuation of the slow and unsteady recovery from the global economic and financial crisis of 2008 for about another five years before a longer period of sustained but modest economic growth begins. In the short-to-medium term, large developing countries may generally perform better than OECD countries due to strong domestic demand for goods and services which would translate into above-average electricity demand. In contrast, electricity demand in the OECD area is likely to continue to stagnate or grow very slowly
The high projection assumes that the current financial and economic crises will be overcome relatively soon and past rates of economic growth and electricity demand will resume. It assumes stringent global policies to mitigate climate change.
In the IAEA high projection, the 2030 share of nuclear power in the total electricity supply is estimated at 13%, slightly higher than its current share. Thi implies faster growth for nuclear power than for electricity as a whole, and this relationship is more pronounced in developing countries than in the OECD countries. Globally, the high projection would require 33–36 new reactors connected to the grid every year starting around 2025. The highest number of new grid connections was 33 in 1984. The current global manufacturing capacity, especially for heavy forgings, is estimated at 30–34 reactors per year and thus would not be a constraint in the high projection. Rather, the challenges would be in ensuring strong political support and a level playing field for all electricity generating options that made nuclear power’s comparative benefits as well as risks more visible to, and understood by, investors and the public. In short, 33 grid connections by 2025 would require
immediate action today.
Nextbigfuture assessment of nuclear energy in 2030
China will build its 200 Gigawatts of nuclear power by 2030. China could outperform that level in the late 2020s.
If China is successful with supercritical water reactors that could achieve costs that are up to half the cost of current reactors and have higher efficiency. These reactors would also be similar to the pressure water reactors and leverage that supply chain. They could be low cost enough to displace all future coal plant construction in China starting in 2025-2030. $900 per kilowatt is over three times cheaper than the estimated overnight cost of advanced nuclear reactors ($3100 per kilowatt) estimated by the US department of energy.
Japan will restart their reactors but it will take a while. Perhaps 10 will restart over the next three years and then the rest of the restarts spread out from 2018 to 2025.
Nextbigfuture sees Canada’s Terrestrial Energy Integral Molten salt reactor (IMSR)being successful. However even if 100-200 IMSR reactors are built they will not be generating electricity. They will be used to produce steam to boost oilsand production. After 2030 the IMSR would become a big part of generating low cost electricity.
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Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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