The number of operational nuclear reactors remained unchanged in 2013, with four joining the world's grids and four closing permanently. Overall nuclear generating capacity showed a slight growth.
|The start of construction on Belarus's first reactor at Ostrovets in November 2013
(Image: Belarus AEC)
The year saw new reactors with total capacity of 4077 MWe connected to the grid: Hongyanhe 1 and 2 and Yangjiang 1 in China, and India's Kudankulam 1. Uprates at existing plants saw a further 1635 MWe added. Against the loss of 3576 MWe from the four reactor shutdowns, the world started 2014 with 435 operable reactors and a total nuclear generating capacity of 375.3 GWe.
Construction started on ten nuclear units during the year. As well the first ever nuclear unit for Belarus and the second in the United Arab Emirates, 2013 also saw the first nuclear construction starts in the USA since the mid-1970s with two units each being built at the Vogtle and Summer sites. Work also began on China's Yiangjiang units 5 and 6 and Tianwan 4, bringing the number of reactors under construction to 71, totalling some 75 GWe.
All four of 2013's permanent reactor shutdowns took place in the USA. In February, Duke Energy announced the retirement of its single-unit Crystal River plant after deciding that the estimated $1.5 billion cost of repairs to the unit's concrete containment would not be in the best interests of the company or its customers. The unit had not operated since 2009 when the problems were discovered during a scheduled outage for refuelling and uprate work.
Like Crystal River, Southern California Edison's (SCE) two units at San Onofre were already offline when the company announced their permanent retirement in June. The units had been kept out of service following the discovery of a fault in a steam generator in one unit in 2012. SCE took the decision to close both units in the light of ongoing regulatory delays and uncertainty over when the plant would be allowed to restart.
The fourth unit to permanently close was Dominion's Kewaunee nuclear power plant in Wisconsin. The 40-year old plant was licensed to continue operations until 2033, but closure was prompted by Dominion's failure to find a buyer for the plant which no longer met the company's strategic aims.
As 2013 drew to a close, Japan once again found itself without nuclear power as its entire fleet remained shut down pending regulatory reviews. Nevertheless, Kansai's Ohi 3 and 4 were in operation until entering scheduled outages in September. By the end of the year, 16 Japanese units had applied for permission to restart under new Nuclear Regulatory Authority regulations.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News