Figures from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) show that nuclear power generation worldwide was 50 TWh lower in 2007 than in 2006, mainly due to cutbacks in three countries.
|Kashiwazaki Kariwa is the biggest
nuclear power plant in the world.
Its extended outage has dented global
generation figures (Image: Tepco)
This 1.9% drop, from 2658 to 2608 TWh, was the first significant decline in world nuclear output in four years.
In Japan, the closure of 8000 MWe of capacity at Tokyo Electric Power Company's (Tepco's) Kashiwazaki Kariwa plant in Niigata prefecture following the earthquake on 16 July had a marked influence. The plant's closure led to Japan's nuclear electricity production dropping by almost 25 TWh to 267.3 TWh in 2007, despite no damage having been found to the reactors.
In the UK, the four oldest reactors - at Dungeness A and Sizewell A - were retired at the end of 2006 and then two larger ones - Hartlepool 2 and Heysham 1 - were laid up with boiler (steam generator) problems, leading to a drop in output of almost 12 TWh.
In Germany, there was a drop of 25 TWh due to the Brunsbuttel and Krummel nuclear power plants being shut down in June due to short circuits in the electricity grid, removing about 2000 MWe of capacity. In addition, the Biblis A and B nuclear plants, totalling 2400 MWe, remained offline due to regulatory issues for part of the year.
However, several countries reported increases in nuclear generation: Bulgaria (up 32% to 13.7 TWh); China (up 14.5% to 59.3 TWh); Russia (up 2.5% to 148.0 TWh); South Africa (up 24.7% to 12.6 TWh); and the USA (up 2.5% to 806.6 TWh) - the last amounting to 19.4 TWh.
France remained the country most reliant on nuclear energy for its electricity, producing some 420 TWh, accounting for almost 77% of its total electricity output. Lithuania followed, with 9 TWh of nuclear electricity accounting for almost 65% of its total electricity output.
According to the IAEA's Power Reactor Information System (PRIS) database, three new nuclear power reactors were connected to the grid in 2007: Kaiga 3 in India, Tianwan 2 in China and Cernavoda 2 in Romania. In addition, the Browns Ferry 1 reactor in the USA returned to service after a long-term shut down.
Also in 2007, construction of five reactors commenced: Qinshan II-4 and Hongyanhe 1 in China; Shin Kori 2 and Shin Wolsong 1 in South Korea; and the Flamanville 3 unit in France. Construction of two floating reactors was also begun in Russia. In addition, construction was also resumed in 2007 of the USA's Watts Bar 2 unit.