Asia to lead nuclear investment to 2030, says WNA

08 January 2015

Investments totalling some $1.2 trillion could be made in new nuclear power projects around the world, according to the latest forecast by the World Nuclear Association (WNA). More than half of this total will be made in Asia.

The WNA's latest survey - entitled The World Nuclear Supply Chain: Outlook 2030 - examines the opportunities and challenges over the next 15 years. The report's reference scenario envisages the start-up of 266 new reactors by 2030, with an investment of some $1.2 trillion. Taking into account nuclear power plant construction and refurbishment projects for long-term operation the international market for suppliers could be worth $30 billion per year.

The report will be launched on 15 January at the World Nuclear Spotlight event to be held in Beijing.

The largest region of growth will be Asia - primarily China - where 47 reactors are currently under construction and a further 142 are forecast by 2030. Investment in nuclear projects in Asia could reach $781 billion over the period.

Greg Kaser, staff director for the WNA's Supply Chain Working Group which produced the report, noted: "With China's nuclear expansion program now well underway, new Chinese suppliers are starting to enter the world market. WNA's Spotlight conference will provide an opportunity to deepen the dialogue on the prospects of that country and the contribution Chinese companies can make globally."

Europe and the CIS are also seen as regions for growth, with potential investments of $179 billion and $163 billion, respectively. In North America, where five units are under construction and seven more predicted, investment could total $90 billion by 2030. Africa and Latin America could see investments of $20 billion and $14 billion, respectively.

The industrial opportunities for nuclear power plant decommissioning are also expanding and the reference scenario envisages the closure of 118 reactors, mostly in Europe and Japan. The market for decommissioning could total $95 billion over the period. Of this, $12.4 billion is the estimated cost for cleaning up Japan's Fukushima Daiichi site and at least $24.2 billion has to be spent in Germany, which is phasing out its reliance on atomic energy.

Managing the quality and capability challenges along the supply chain will be crucial to securing a reliable and efficient international supplier base. In Europe and North America, capability to manufacture safety-related components and systems has been eroded with a scarcity of new nuclear projects, while in emerging industrial countries, vendors must upgrade to meet the more stringent requirements expected in the nuclear industry.

Unlike some other industries, the nuclear sector has tended to be domestically oriented and vendors operate in a less harmonized regulatory environment. WNA's report looks at the scope for improving coordination between national authorities responsible for licensing nuclear facilities and technology exports, as well as the opportunity for the industry to establish jointly managed programs to encourage high-quality production and a strong culture of safety.

Past concerns that 'choke points' existed along the supply chain, for example, in heavy forging capacity and among specialist tube-makers, are unlikely to arise under currently known plans for new nuclear construction. However, if the investment climate for nuclear energy in particular improved significantly and for infrastructure projects more generally, as the world economy returns to trend growth rates, then the supply industry will need to make further investments in production capacity.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News