Steady growth in nuclear generation continues

16 August 2018

Global nuclear power generation in 2017 increased for the fifth consecutive year, reaching 2506 TWh, according to a new World Nuclear Association report. The Association says the industry is on target to meet the near-term goals of its Harmony programme.

Global nuclear generation and capacity under construction (Image: World Nuclear Association)

In the World Nuclear Performance Report 2018, the Association details power generation and construction achievements for the previous year. In addition, the report features five case studies covering topics including how one of the oldest operating reactors achieved a 100% availability factor, the restart of two reactors in Japan and the construction and operation of three new reactor models in China, Russia and South Korea.

At the end of 2017 the global nuclear capacity of the 448 operable reactors stood at 392 GWe, up 2 GWe compared with the end of 2016. Four new reactors were connected to the grid, with a combined capacity of 3373 MWe. The total number of reactors under construction fell by two to 59 over the course of 2017. Five reactors - two of which had not generated electricity for some years - were shut down, with a combined capacity of 3025 MWe.

The median construction time in 2017 was 58 months, down from 74 months in 2016, and equalling the lowest five-year median construction time achieved in 2001-2005.

Nuclear-electricity-production-1970-2017-for-article-(WNA).jpgThe capacity factor for the global fleet stood at 81% in 2017, maintaining the high availability of around 80% that has been maintained since 2000, up from the 60% average capacity factor at the start of the 1980s. "In general, a high capacity factor is a reflection of good operation performance," World Nuclear Association said. "However, there is an increasing trend in some countries for nuclear reactors to operate in a load-following mode, resulting in lower annual capacity factors."

The Association noted there is no significant age-related trend in nuclear reactor performance. The mean capacity factor for reactors over the last five years shows no significant variation regardless of their age, it said.

Agneta Rising, Director General of World Nuclear Association said, "There is no sustainable energy future without nuclear energy. We will need all low-carbon energy sources to work together. Nuclear capacity must expand to achieve the industry's Harmony goal to enable nuclear energy to supply 25% of the world's electricity demand by 2050."

The Harmony goal will require a tripling of nuclear generation from its present level. Some 1000 GWe of new nuclear generating capacity will need to be constructed by then to achieve that goal.

"Much needs to be done to deliver the Harmony goal, but good progress has been made, both in terms of global reactor performance and new nuclear capacity additions," Rising said. "After 2015 and 2016 each saw nearly 10 GWe of new nuclear capacity start up, a more modest 3.3 GWe was connected to the grid in 2017. However, in 2018 and 2019 more than 26 GWe of new nuclear capacity is scheduled to come online, meeting the overall target for this first five-year period."

She added, "The pace of capacity additions required to meet the Harmony goal needs to accelerate in the next decade, eventually reaching an average of 33 GWe of new nuclear capacity added each year. Action is needed to enable this acceleration to happen."

World Nuclear Association has identified three areas for action to achieve this: establishing a level playing field in electricity markets, building harmonised regulatory processes, and an effective safety paradigm.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News