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Final Investment Decisions Down For Nuclear, But Construction Starts Rise

By David Dalton
14 May 2019

Final Investment Decisions Down For Nuclear, But Construction Starts Rise
The Hinkley Point C nuclear plant in England, where construction began in 2018.

14 May (NucNet): Final investment decisions for the main sources of large-scale dispatchable power – coal, gas, hydropower and nuclear – fell by a quarter in 2018 to 90 GW, 55% lower than in 2010 a report by the International Energy Agency says.

FIDs for the largest sources of low-carbon dispatchable generation – hydropower and nuclear – were 40% lower than in 2017. Construction starts for new nuclear power plants rose by 50% in 2018, but were lower than grid connections.

The report, ‘World Energy Investment 2019’, says that in recent years there has been a broad shift in favour of projects with shorter construction times that limit capital at risk. But it says there has been little recent progress in improving costs or project cycles for nuclear energy.

China remained the largest market for energy investment in 2018. Total investment declined by 7% over the past three years due to lower spend on new coal-fired plants, down over 60%, outweighing relatively high investment in renewables and nuclear.

Nuclear power investment edged up as the number of new grid-connected plants in 2018 grew threefold, 80% of them in China. Construction starts rose to 6 GW – none of which were in China – but were much lower than capacity additions. Spending on the long-term operation of existing plants was 13% of the total.

Overall, low-carbon power generation – renewables and nuclear – comprised nearly three-quarters of total generation spending of $1.8 trillion in 2018, a level similar to 2017.

Continuing investments in coal plants, which have a long lifecycle, appear to be aimed at filling a growing gap between soaring demand for power and a levelling off of expected generation from low-carbon investments including nuclear.

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