The Positive Aspects of Going Nuclear
As the search for energy sources that reduce harm to the environment continues, Edward Kee’s article takes a brave step forward to identify the positive aspects of nuclear power.
Earlier this week (on 11 August 2015), the Sendai 1 nuclear power reactor was restarted and will be the first Japanese reactor to generate power since 2013.
Another 20 Japanese nuclear power reactors are in various stages of the restart process, which requires nuclear safety regulator certification that they meet upgraded safety standards put in place after the 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi accident.
Japan plans to bring the share of nuclear generation to 20-22 percent by 2030.
- U.S. has the most operational nuclear power reactors
NECG #2 – Operating Reactors
Looks good for U.S. nuclear power.
But the U.S. had 104 operational power reactors until 5 of these reactors closed early and permanently in in the last few years.
Two of these, Kewaunee and Vermont Yankee, were merchant nuclear plants closed because they were losing money. More merchant nuclear plants could close soon even though they have decades of useful life remaining. See NECG Commentary #10 and Can Nuclear Succeed in Power Markets? (view article).
Meanwhile, U.S. nuclear power reactors are getting older.
All U.S. power reactors operating today will be retired by 2055.
The chart (from NECG nuclear database) assumes that:
All of these power reactors get NRC approval to operate for 60 years – most have this, but 19 are waiting for approval and another 9 have not yet applied
All 99 of the US nuclear power reactors operating today remain in operation until the end of their NRC license (i.e., do not close earlier for economic or maintenance reasons)
Two bright spots:
The U.S. NRC is looking at whether these operating power reactors can safely operate for 80 years
5 reactors now under construction in the U.S. will be around for longer
- China is building the most nuclear power reactors
NECG #4 – NECG Building
This chart (from NECG nuclear database) shows nuclear power reactors actually under construction (meaning that nuclear safety-related nuclear concrete has been poured).
In addition to having the most reactors under construction, China has another 40 power reactors that are planned reactors and about 150 that are proposed. China will enter the global power reactor market with proven Chinese reactor designs, operating reference nuclear reactors, and recent successful construction experience.
Key points include:
- World’s largest nuclear power plant
- Ten reactors have operated more than 44 years
- Nuclear has very low greenhouse gas emissions
Read the full article, 17 things I like about Nuclear Power, on NuclearEconomics.com.