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SOLUTION: NUCLEAR ENERGY

SOLUTION: NUCLEAR ENERGY

WNN published.

The United Nations, the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the World Energy Council (WEC) are drawing global attention to the inherent qualities of nuclear power as a clean and reliable source of electricity. Now into its seventh decade, nuclear energy is seen by these and other prominent organisations as an existing and proven solution to the 21st Century challenges of climate change and a sustainable energy transition.

This was the shared message of Agneta Rising and Kirill Komarov, respectively the director general and chairman of World Nuclear Association, at the opening of its Symposium 2019 in London yesterday.

"Energy is essential for promoting human development and global demand is projected to increase significantly in the coming decades," Rising said. "Securing access to modern and affordable energy is essential for all, lifting people out of poverty and promoting energy independence and economic growth. Nuclear energy is a proven solution with a long established track record.

"The 445 nuclear reactors in 30 countries are the low-carbon backbone of electricity systems, operating in the background, day in day out, often out of sight and out of mind, capable of generating an immense amount of clean power. They are the silent giants upon which we rely today.

"Nuclear power showed that it can be the catalyst for delivering a sustainable energy transition long before climate change was on the agenda. Nuclear power is the fast-track to a high-powered and clean energy system, which not only delivers a healthier environment and an affordable supply of electricity, but also strengthens energy security and helps mitigate climate change."

Growing recognition

Komarov, who is first deputy director general for corporate development and international business at Russia's Rosatom, directly highlighted the increasing importance of nuclear power to policy influencers.

A UN document published in October last year concluded that a large increase in the use of nuclear power would help keep global warming to below 1.5 degrees. This Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report - Global Warming of 1.5 degrees - was commissioned by governments at COP21 in Paris in 2015.

In May this year, the IEA unveiled its policy recommendations for the many countries that see a role for nuclear power in their energy transitions in a new report it launched at the 10th Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM10) in Vancouver, Canada. Titled Nuclear Power in a Clean Energy System, it was the Paris-based agency's first report addressing nuclear power in nearly two decades in order, it said, "to bring this important topic back into the global energy debate".

And at the 24th World Energy Congress in Abu Dhabi next week, WEC will launch its own new report - World Energy Scenarios: Futures of Global Nuclear to 2060 - which it produced in consultation with World Nuclear Association. At the same forum, the Association will launch its white paper on the place of nuclear energy in a clean energy system.

Komarov said the power industry as a whole has been facing a major challenge to provide universal access to electricity and to decarbonise electricity production. This twin task, he said, is being reflected in the energy policies of leading nations, in the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and in decisions made at COP21. It also underlines, he added, the World Nuclear Association's Harmony programme, which aims for nuclear power to increase its share of global electricity generation from 10% to 25% by 2050.

"Nuclear energy is an established source of stable and affordable electricity worldwide," he said, "but it is struggling to get the recognition it deserves for its contribution to clean energy development." Nuclear is "irreplaceable in achieving decarbonisation", he said, since existing nuclear power plants already avoid the emission of about 2 billion tonnes of CO2 each year. "The question is, in 15 to 20 years' time, how far will nuclear energy go in helping to avoid climate change, given that decisions will need to be made on lifetime extensions for reactor units in operation today and on building new ones."

Now is the time, he said, to look at nuclear energy "through the prism of sustainability" and the UN's SDGs. Nuclear power is relevant to ten out of the 17 SDGs, he noted, and as such is the "frontrunner" among sources of energy, followed by renewables and hydropower.

"The fundamental role of nuclear power in providing a better life for people all around the world urges us to introduce nuclear to the agenda of the major international development and sustainable development forums," he said. In addition to the IPCC, IEA and WEC, these also include the Nuclear Innovation: Clean Energy Future (NICE Future) initiative which was launched in May 2018 at CEM9 in Copenhagen. In addition, the International Atomic Energy Agency will hold its first conference on to climate change, at its Vienna headquarters early next month.

Komarov said World Nuclear Association's strength lay in its membership - more than 180 members, representing countries with more than 80% of the world's population. Its commitment, he added, was not only to the established nuclear industry, but also to newcomer countries to nuclear power through its World Nuclear Spotlight events. Designed to bring together key national and international stakeholders involved in advancing such plans and providing an opportunity to exchange information and experience, the first Spotlight was held in November last year in Warsaw. Polish Energy Minister Krzysztof Tchórzewski made a keynote speech at the event, saying that his ministry was actively discussing the country's potential adoption of nuclear power. The following month, he announced the country plans to build its first nuclear power units in the Pomerania region in the north of the country, by 2033. World Nuclear Spotlight Poland was followed in April this year with one in Rio de Janeiro, where Brazilian Minister of Mines and Energy Bento Albuquerque said Brazil was committed to resuming the Angra 3 project. The third Spotlight will take place next month in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan.

So far, so Harmony

Launched at Symposium 2015, the Harmony programme aims to achieve a 25% share of world electricity production by 2050 through the addition of 1000 GWe of new capacity. It encompasses three objectives - a level playing field for all clean-energy sources of electricity, harmonised regulatory processes, and an effective safety paradigm.

To meet the Harmony goal, World Nuclear Association says the average build rate required is: 10 GWe per year between 2016 and 2020; 25 GWe per year between 2021 and 2025; and 33 GWe per year between 2026 and 2050.

Yesterday, Rising highlighted the need to triple construction rates from current levels in order to optimise nuclear energy's role in sustainable development.

"The IEA's latest report on nuclear energy highlighted the importance of dependable baseload electricity generation and the need to properly value and compensate them for the electricity security and reliability services they provide," Rising said. "It also concluded that without an expanded contribution from nuclear energy, the huge challenge of achieving emissions reductions will become drastically harder and more costly. The global nuclear industry, led by World Nuclear Association, is ready to take up the challenge."

Referring to the World Nuclear Performance Report 2019, which the Association published last week, Rising said there had been real progress towards the Harmony target.

Nuclear reactors generated a total of 2563 TWh of electricity in 2018, up from 2502 TWh in 2017. This was the sixth successive year that nuclear generation had risen, according to the report, with output 217 TWh higher than in 2012. Last year the global capacity factor was 79.8%, down from 81.1% in 2017, but still at the high level of performance seen since 2000. There is no significant age-related trend in nuclear reactor performance, it notes, since the mean capacity factor for reactors over the last five years shows little variation with age.

It makes no difference whether a reactor is "totally brand new" or has operated for 50 years, it will still be operating at high capacity factors, Rising said.

Construction started last year on a total capacity of 6.3 GWe - on Akkuyu 1 in Turkey, Hinkley Point C in the UK, Kurst II-1 in Russia, Rooppur 2 in Bangladesh and Shin-Kori 6 in South Korea.

In 2016-2017, a total of 14 new units started construction - eight in China, two in Pakistan, and one each in Russia, South Korea and the USA. In 2018-19, there were nine in China, three in Russia and one in South Korea.

There are 19 units scheduled to start up by 2020 - nine in China, two each in Belarus and Russia, and one each in Finland, India, Japan, Slovakia, South Korea and the UAE.

According to the report, in the five years between 2016 and 2020, there are due to be 47 new reactors online in 11 countries, of which two are newcomers to nuclear power. In total, these 47 reactors add 15% to global nuclear capacity. They are based on 20 different designs, of which nine are being built for the first time.

"This is fantastic development," Rising said. "If we look at the Harmony programme in 2016 to 2020, the construction rate doubled from a trend of less than 5 gigawatts per year to 10 gigawatts per year. So the 50 gigawatts projected will be delivered. But this is only the beginning. From this level we need to double and then to triple the rate."

Komarov said the Harmony target is achievable if the industry "has the will and real motivation". Rising added: "Nuclear energy is being talked about and written about in new reports and in conversations between governments and organisations. We are wanted. We are dynamic. We are essential."

 

Vladimir Vinogradov's picture

Thank Vladimir for the Post!

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Discussions

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Sep 11, 2019 5:47 am GMT

Bravo, Vladimir. If the U.S. doesn't climb aboard this train quickly, we will be left behind.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Sep 11, 2019 1:24 pm GMT

Energy is essential for promoting human development and global demand is projected to increase significantly in the coming decades," Rising said. "Securing access to modern and affordable energy is essential for all, lifting people out of poverty and promoting energy independence and economic growth. Nuclear energy is a proven solution with a long established track record.

I'm not sure how nuclear could/should fit into some of the developing parts of the world, but this is the message that should be used when looking at the future of energy one way or the other. The economics of building out new nuclear are still (currently, at least) tough, so that's where progress would need to be made

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Sep 12, 2019 5:15 pm GMT

Nothing compared to the economics of not building out new nuclear, Matt.

Bob Wallace's picture
Bob Wallace on Sep 12, 2019 11:33 pm GMT

"Nuclear energy is an established source of stable and affordable electricity worldwide,"

This is a clearly false claim and makes the rest of the argument worhtless.

Paid off reactors are closing because they cost too much to maintain.  There is no chance a new reactor could compete in a fair market.

Nuclear has had a half century and many billions of dollars in subsidies to prove itself and it hasn't.  Perhaps sometime later someone will invent a reactor that can produce cheap electricity but that is not something we can do today.  We need to quit pushing a failed technology and put our efforts into accelerating what has proven to be the most affordable options.

 

 

 

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on Sep 14, 2019 5:01 am GMT

Sounds like a nice goal. Nuclear share increasing by 2.5 times over the next 30 years even while total world generation gets larger.  So in other words nuclear will actually have to at least triple to meet this goal.

How has nuclear done over the last 20 years?

Capacity:

There has been an increase of 14% in nuclear capacity over the last 20 years. 

Generation:

There has been an increase of only 8% for nuclear generation over the last 20 years. Plus, actually still down from its peak.  Not good.

Yeah, but things are picking up, right?  Nope - one construction start so far in 2019. One???!!

So - will nuclear share of WW generation increase from 10% to 25% in the next 30 years - or will it be lucky to not fall from its current 10%?

 

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Sep 14, 2019 3:06 pm GMT

GreentechMedia.com, a traditionally pro-renewables, anti-nuclear site, doesn't share your pessimism Joe:

"Federal policymakers are also moving forward with plans to support deployment of the first advanced reactors within a decade, reflected in the NuclearEnergy Leadership Act legislation introduced in the Senate last month. NELA sets short-term targets for advanced nuclear deployment, including signing at least one federal power-purchase agreement by 2023 (with a design that received its license after 2019).

NuScale could qualify for these PPAs, but NELA also directs the DOE to complete at least two advanced reactor demonstrations by 2025 and up to five additional demonstrations by 2035."

Re:

"So - will nuclear share of WW generation increase from 10% to 25% in the next 30 years - or will it be lucky to not fall from its current 10%?"

"Lucky?" A quaint concept, but nuclear proponents think in different terms. Maybe it's because their tech isn't reliant upon luck to deliver a steady supply of clean electricity.

I don't know what the odds are for "Germany will meet its 2020 emissions target", but if I was a betting man I'd pick "nuclear will exceed 30% WW generation by 2050" in a heartbeat.

 

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on Sep 15, 2019 6:59 am GMT

Bob,

I agree with the "guest commentators" Jessica Lovering and Ted Nordhaus. The only chance nuclear has of staying relevant is with innovative small, modular reactors.

Just curious - did you read the article from WNN - World Nuclear News that Vladimir referenced.

From WNN: 

That article gives a link for:  The 39th annual edition of Energy, Electricity and Nuclear Power Estimates for the Period up to 2050 

If you haven't yet, you might want to read that report. It's from the International Atomic Energy Agency  and its pretty well done.

From pg 19 - here is there prediction for future Nuclear plant capacity. 

Assuming 

Generation Projections from pg 22.

Electricity and Nuclear Production Projections

●  The total nuclear electricity production in the world will continue to increase between now and 2050.

●  In the high case, by 2030 nuclear electricity production will increase by 50% from the 2018 level of 2563 TW·h, and a further increase of 50% will occur over the next 20 years. Altogether, a 2.2-fold increase over the present level is expected by 2050.

●  In the low case, despite nuclear electrical generating capacity declining from the present level until 2040 and then rebounding, nuclear electricity production will increase by about 11% by 2030 and about 16% by 2050.

 The share of nuclear electricity in total electricity production in the world will decrease in the low case from about 10.2% in 2018 to 8.5% in 2030 and 6.1% in 2050. However, in the high case, its share will increase to 11.5% in 2030 and to 11.7% in 2050.

In other words their "high case" is less than 1/2 of the 25% goal. Where do you see their assumptions being incorrect?

Back in 2000, nuclear used to provide 16% of WW electricity. It has dropped consistently since then to its current 10.2%.

 In order to meet the "high case"  in the capacity chart above nuclear needs to average over 13GW/year of new reactor starts. So far in 2019 - 1GW of new construction. Not looking good.

 

 

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