10 Jul (NucNet): Global nuclear capacity could grow between eight percent and 88 percent by 2030 because of growth of population and demand for electricity in the developing world, recognition of the role nuclear power plays in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the importance of security of energy supply, and the volatility of fossil fuel prices, the International Atomic Energy Agency said.
In its ‘Nuclear Technology Review 2015’, the Vienna-based agency said circumstances point to nuclear energy playing an important role in the energy mix “in the long run”.
In 2014 near and long-term growth prospects remained centred in Asia, particularly in China, the IAEA said. Of the 70 reactors under construction, 46 were in Asia, as were 32 of the last 40 reactors that were connected to the grid since 2004.
There were 438 reactors operating at the end of 2014 and nuclear energy had a global generating capacity of 376.2 gigawatts, the IAEA said.
There was only one permanent shutdown in 2014. The single-unit Vermont Yankee in the US ended commercial operations on 29 December 2014 due to “financial considerations”.
In 2014, five new reactors were connected to the grid: Atucha-2 in Argentina, Ningde-2, Fuqing-1 and Fangjiashan-1 in China, and Rostov-3 in Russia. Construction of the Atucha-2 reactor unit had originally started in 1981 but was delayed and reactivated only in 2009.
There were three construction starts – at Belarusian-2 in Belarus, Barakah-3 in the United Arab Emirates and Carem-25, a small integral type of pressurised light-water reactor design in Argentina.
Safety improvements continued to be made at nuclear stations, the IAEA said. These have included identifying and applying lessons learned from the Fukushima-Daiichi accident, improving the effectiveness of defence in depth, strengthening emergency preparedness and response capabilities, and protecting people and the environment from ionising radiation.
Although considerable exploration and development expenditure was reported, many new uranium mining projects have been or are expected to be delayed due to low uranium prices, the IAEA said.
The IAEA emphasised the need for “a comprehensive, integrated, cradle-to-grave approach” for radioactive waste management, and highlighted the fact that solutions are available for implementation.
The report is online: http://bit.ly/1CtNOhb