3 Dec (NucNet): Electricity generated by nuclear energy in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) area declined between 2011 and 2012 by 5.2 percent, reflecting the permanent shutdown of three reactors that had reached the end of their operational lifetime (two in the UK and one in Canada), operational issues at some facilities and suspended operation at all but two reactors in Japan, according to the Nuclear Energy Agency’s ‘Nuclear Energy Data 2013’, also known as the ‘Brown Book.’
As a result of these issues, the share of electricity production from nuclear power plants in the OECD area also decreased from 19.9 percent in 2011 to 18.9 percent in 2012, the Brown Book says.
But record electricity production at nuclear power plants in the Czech Republic and Hungary, combined with increased production in Canada, France, Spain and Sweden balanced, to some extent, declining production in Belgium, Germany, the UK and the US.
The Brown Book says that if all the units under construction and committed to construction be completed, a total of 51.6 gigawatts of nuclear generating capacity would be added to electricity grids in the OECD area. However, by 2018 nine reactors are expected to be retired from service in the OECD area, reducing capacity by a total of 7.1 GW.
Nineteen reactors were under construction in 2012 (six in the OECD American region, four in OECD Europe and nine in the OECD Pacific region), although the construction of four of these reactors in Japan has at least been temporarily halted.
In addition, 23 reactors were considered firmly committed to construction, including the first four in Turkey for commercial electricity production to be built at the Akkuyu site on the Mediterranean coast.
In terms of capacity at the end of 31 December 2012, a total of 331 commercially operational reactors were connected to the grid in the OECD area as two new reactors began commercial operation in South Korea and three reactors in Canada were brought back into service after refurbishment. This compares to 436 commercial reactors operating worldwide – including non-OECD countries – according to International Atomic Energy Agency figures.
As a result, nuclear power generating capacity increased by 0.7 percent from 300.7 GW (net) in 2011 to 302.9 GW (net) in 2012.
Declining uranium market prices throughout 2012 reduced exploration activities and led to the postponement of mine development projects. Nonetheless, preliminary, unofficial data suggest that global uranium production increased by about six percent to 58,000 tonnes of uranium metal (tU) in 2012 from 54,670 tU in 2011, led by increased production in Kazakhstan and Australia.
This edition of the Brown Book contains official information on nuclear energy provided by governments of the OECD’s 34 member countries. The information includes projections of total and nuclear electricity generating capacities to 2035 and short narrative country reports providing updates of national nuclear energy programmes.
The ‘Brown Book’ is online: http://www.oecd-nea.org/ndd/pubs/2013/7162-bb-2013.pdf