By - Jim Vess

Worldwide nuclear generation rose 2.4 percent in 2018 with nine new reactors coming online

Energize Weekly, October 2, 2019

Nuclear power generation was up 2.4 percent worldwide in 2018 to 2,563 terawatt-hours (TWh) from 449 operable reactors, according to the World Nuclear Association, an industry trade group.

There were 55 reactors under construction in 2018, with five new construction starts and nine new reactors connected to the grid, adding a total generating capacity of 10.4 gigawatts (GW).

“The world’s nuclear plants continue to perform excellently,” Agneta Rising, director general of the association, said in a statement. “Growth is strong, with more than 20 new reactors scheduled to be connected before the end of 2020.”

Still, Rising said that for the industry to reach the goal of supplying at least 25 percent of the world’s electricity before 2050, a “much greater commitment from policymakers will be required.”

She noted that in the United States, some states have introduced financial supports for nuclear generation, “recognizing the value of its clean, low-carbon generation.”

But elsewhere in the U.S., Rising said, “reactors are under threat from distorted and challenging market conditions.”

Seven reactors with a total capacity of 5.4 GW were closed last year, with five of the plants in Japan. Four of those Japanese plants had not been in operation since 2011, and the fifth, Chinshan 1, had not generated electricity since 2015.

Four Japanese reactors with 5.6 GW of capacity were approved for restart and that would bring the country’s operating nuclear plants to nine. However, the pace of restarts remains slow, the association said.

In Asia, nuclear generation rose by more than 10 percent, to reach 533 TWh, with the region accounting for more than 20 percent of global generation.

Construction time for reactors in 2018 averaged eight-and-a-half years, mainly due to the startup of reactors using new designs. The average construction time in recent years has been five to six years.

“We should see construction times return to more typical recent durations in 2019,” Rising said.

Construction on the first of four planned units at Akkuyu in Turkey began in 2018, as did work at the Hinkley Point C site in the United Kingdom, marking the first plant projects in Western and Central Europe since 2007.

In Russia, preparations on the first floating nuclear power plant are underway, with both reactors on board the Akademik Lomonosov barge reaching first criticality.

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