Adding 1000 GWe of new nuclear energy capacity by 2050

The nuclear industry can achieve the momentum required to create an additional 1000 GWe of new capacity by 2050, Agneta Rising, director general of the World Nuclear Association said. This target is essential, she said, if the world is to ensure the International Energy Agency’s 2 Degree Scenario on climate change.

Connections of new nuclear power units doubled in 2015 to ten new reactors each year compared with five in 2014 and similar numbers in previous years.

Only nuclear power can ensure the clean, affordable and reliable electricity needed to meet increasing global energy demand whilst ensuring climate goals can also be achieved, Rising said.

She proposed the following schedule: 50 GWe of new capacity in 2016-2020, 125 GWe in 2021-2025 and 825 GWe in 2026-2050. That means a yearly connection rate of 10 GWe, 25 GWe and 33 GWe, respectively.

In the mid-80s, some 31 GWe of new nuclear capacity were delivered and connected each year, she noted. “I am so sure that we can do better now. We have more technologies, more experience, more companies and a lot of need to have this low-carbon electricity that is so reliable.”

The Association’s World Nuclear Performance Report 2016 shows there have been “a lot of reactor start-ups in the last 12 months in different parts of the world, including China, India, the USA, South Korea and Russia”, Rising said.

“Altogether they are delivering a connection rate of 11.3 GWe and the target for this period is 10 GWe, so already in the first year now we are delivering on that target. But there is much to do if we are going to ramp this up,” she said.

And construction periods are getting shorter. “Even in the industry, I hear people say that nuclear has long construction times. No. Construction times are coming down. There has been a 5.5 year average construction time for last five years. Of course there are examples where there have been big delays – delays in decision making and delays in construction, but overall, on average, it’s a very great result,” she said.

In addition, each reactor built is delivering more and more electricity, she said. “The capacity factor – what you deliver compared to what you are constructed to deliver – is climbing up. In the 80s, it was about 60% and now it is around 80%.” These percentages are based on the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Power Reactor Information System, or PRIS, database, which includes Japanese reactors even though they are not in operation currently. “That means, if you look at the reactors that are running – the capacity factor is above 80%,” Rising said. “If you look at many of the other energy sources, I don’t think there is any that has such high capacity factors as nuclear. For example, solar and wind have a capacity factor of 10-15% on average.

A level playing field for all low-carbon technologies would value not only the environmental qualities of an energy source, but also its reliability and grid system costs.

Markets should be reformed to, Rising said, to support capital investments, include grid system costs, eliminate nuclear-only taxes, reform subsidies, give credit for low-carbon emissions, value 24/7 reliability and support innovative finance solutions.

A level playing field for nuclear cannot be achieved as long as power markets are distorted, Rising said, with low wholesale prices reflecting renewables that are supported by subsidies. Current gas prices may be low in the USA, but this does not reflect the cost of emissions that fossil fuelled plants account for, she added.

SOURCE – World Nuclear News