9 Gigawatts of nuclear power completed in 2016 which is the most in 25 years

The nuclear industry brought more than 9 GWe of new plant on line last year, the largest annual increase in 25 years putting it on track to achieve the Harmony goal of providing 25% of electricity in 2050 using 1000 GWe of new capacity.

In the World Nuclear Performance Report 2017, the Association detailed power generation and construction achievements for the previous year.

The ten new reactors which came on line in 2016 added 9.1 GWe to global capacity and took the total nuclear capacity supplying electricity to the grid past 350 GWe for the first time ever. This does not include around 40 GWe of operable nuclear plant that remains offline in Japan and is making slow progress towards restart.

The global nuclear fleet is growing faster than at any time in the last 25 years. Restarts in Japan would significantly boost output (Source: World Nuclear Association, IAEA PRIS)

Growth in nuclear power is being led by China, where five of the ten new reactors are located. “This trend is likely to continue in the coming years with around a third of reactors currently under construction being located in China,” said Agneta Rising, the Association’s director-general.

Chinese industry constructed its new reactors in 5 years and 9 months on average. Series build is a major factor in this. A case study showed that 912 issues were identified during the construction of Yangjiang 1-3. Successfully addressing these helped unit 4 to be built more than ten months more quickly than unit 1.

Total nuclear power generated worldwide was up for the fourth year in a row, to 2476 TWh in 2016, which broadly keeps pace with the overall growth of the electricity system. Figures for global electricity of all kinds take longer to compile, but the latest data, for 2014, shows nuclear maintaining a 10.6% share of electricity.

Future growth

The build rate of 9 GWe per year represents a doubling compared to the average over the previous 25 years, said the report. Rising welcomed it as being in line with the needs of the Harmony goal for nuclear power to generate 25% of electricity with 1000 GWe of new capacity in 2050. Rising said the path to acheiving this needs an average of 10 GWe per year of new build now, then a doubling to 25 GWe on average from 2021-2025 and a peak construction rate of 33 GWe per year on average from 2026. This represents a return to the build rates the industry acheived in the 1980s.

Rosatom’s deputy director-general for international business has described the World Nuclear Association’s aim to add 1000 GWe of new capacity by 2050 as fully achievable and “perhaps modest”.