Asian nuclear driven by air quality and cooperation

25 October 2016

Two-thirds of nuclear construction is in Asia, with countries in that region now global leaders in reactor construction and operation, according to a report issued today by the World Nuclear Association.

"As we look to expand nuclear generation worldwide there will be much to learn from the Asian experience," said Agneta Rising, director general of the organisation.

In an Asia Edition of its World Nuclear Performance Report, the global nuclear industry body focused on developments in the continent, presenting the results during the Energy Insights event at Singapore International Energy Week today.

Rising said, "Thirty-nine of 60 reactors under construction are in Asia. Hundreds more are already planned. By the end of this decade, China will have the second highest number of reactors of any country, exceeding France. By the end of the 2020s it will be number one, exceeding the USA."

Construction periods for nuclear power plants in east Asia have been consistently low for the last 35 years, with each reactor taking on average 55 months to progress from first concrete to grid connection. This is below the global average today of 73 months, calculated from units that started up in 2015. In south Asia, which translates to the programs of India and Pakistan, nuclear operators have benefitted much less from international cooperation and construction times have been higher at 85 months on average since 2000.

"Nevertheless," said Rising, "over the last 35 years there has been a general improvement of construction times [in south Asia], in part helped by greater international cooperation. For example, the Chashma 3 reactor, which recently came online in Pakistan, had a construction time of just 65 months."

Reactor generation performance has a similar story, with east Asian units performing to a higher capacity factor, of 80% or 90% on average, compared to south Asian units. However in south Asia "the below-average reactor operations of the 1980s have been dramatically improved upon. Capacity factors now exceed 60% or 70% and are continuing to improve.

The report states that much of the impetus for developing nuclear energy comes from the need to improve air quality.

Rising concluded: "Air pollution caused by fossil fuels is already responsible for irrevocably harming the health of hundreds of millions of people, many in south and east Asia. Nuclear energy, working in harmony with other low-carbon sources, offers the potential to meet our growing need for electricity without harming the environment and while protecting our health."

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News