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April 23, 2008

Nuclear power build China, USA, and the world

There are Combined license applications for 15 nuclear plantsthat have been received by the NRC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

34 plants from 23 applications are expected by 2010

China has 21 reactors under or about to start construction and another 18 should start construction after that.

35 nuclear plants are under construction right now in the world and that does not include Watts Bar Unit 2 being completed in Tennessee. Watts Bar unit 2 is a 1180 MWe reactor is expected to come on line in 2013 at a cost of $2.49 billion. Construction was suspended in 1985 and will resume late in 2008 under a still-valid permit. It will provide power at 4.4 c/kW.

There was a net increase of 3724 MWe in capacity 1991-2003 in the USA which resulted from many reactors with increases - some substantial, offset by 19 with decreases. [net increase is increased power less reduced power]

Current new build by country in order of amount of power added
China 6 reactors, 5520 MW
Russia 7 reactors, 4920 MW
S Korea 3 reactors, 3000 MW
India 6 reactors, 2976 MW
Japan 2 reactors, 2285 MW
France 1 reactor, 1630 MW
Finland 1 reactor, 1600MW
Canada 2 reactors, 1500 MW
Iran 1, 915MW
Slovakia 2 reactors, 840MW
Argentina 1 reactor, 692MW
Pakistan 1 reactor, 300 MW

35 reactors, 28798 MW (most should be completed by 2012/2013)

91 reactors 99095 MW
with approvals, funding or major commitment in place, mostly expected in operation within 8 years (by 2016)

China raised its target for 2020 to 60GW

Much of the increase in China's nuclear power (from 40GW to 60GW in 2020) is likely to be from increased reactor sizes. Sites tentatively identified by prospective investors as most likely to host 1,000-MW PWRs beginning in the Twelfth Plan may in some cases instead see construction of bigger units based on foreign technology from the US, Russia, and France, Chinese sources said last month. That could favor the AP1000 -- provided the State Nuclear Power Technology Co., Snptc, an arm of the State Council of Ministers responsible for China's future nuclear power development, succeeds in increasing the AP1000 power level to 1,400 MW. The 1,600-MW-class EPR, the biggest reactor to be built in China, but so far limited to construction of two units, could also be favored for additional construction should China Guangdong Nuclear Power Co., Cgnpc, overcome opposition to further construction by key Beijing bureaucrats. Russian industry, Chinese sources said, may now also be pushed to complete development of a 1,500-MW PWR for the Tianwan site.

In addition to the 438 reactors operating worldwide in 2007, the WNA counted 46 under or about to start construction.

Russia is on a crash course to build up to three nuclear power units per year to bring nuclear's share in its electricity supply from today's 15.4% to 23% by 2020.

China is also planning a major nuclear power expansion. China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holding Co. Ltd. announced plans earlier this year to have 6,000 MW of nuclear capacity on line by 2010, 15,000 MW by 2015, and 34,000 MW by 2020. The company operates half the 8,000 MW of nuclear capacity in China today. China is rapidly acquiring nuclear technology, partly through technology transfer agreements built into supply contracts with Western vendors, and hopes to begin exporting reactors by 2020.

India has a mostly indigenous nuclear power program and plans to have 20,000 MW on line by 2020, from today's 3,500 MW, and to get 25% of its electricity from nuclear by 2050. India may be aided by a special agreement with the US, which is to open up nuclear power trade despite India's refusal to give up its nuclear weapons program.

Japan, with 55 reactors, plans more but has difficulty with public acceptance for new sites. South Korea, which like Japan must import virtually all energy, continues its program to reach 26,600 nuclear MW by 2017. It has 18,400 MW today.


According to a World Nuclear Association study released in September, an adequate supply of uranium is expected until 2030, with production picking up sharply between now and 2015. In 2010-15, WNA said, there could even be a surplus.

Discussions are under way to reinvigorate the Euratom loan program, last used following the collapse of the Soviet Union to improve safety at Soviet-designed plants in eastern Europe. The program has a budget cap of €4 billion but talks are ongoing to raise the cap to at least €6 billion. The European Investment Bank could finance nuclear plant construction which it has not done since the 1980s.

In Belgium, Suez-Electrabel's seven units are scheduled to close beginning in 2015 under a 2003 nuclear phase-out law. Belgium political parties did agree during summer negotiations that at least some units should be allowed to operate beyond the 40-year limit.

In the Netherlands, the single nuclear unit, Borssele, has overcome a politically-imposed phase-out and can now run 30 additional years. Discussion on new nuclear construction is under way, with utilities Essent and Delta said to be interested in building.

Bulgaria has just begun a project to build two new Russian 1,000-MW reactors. Romania is planning to add one, and maybe two, Candu reactors at its Cernavoda station.

Slovakia will build another two Russian-design VVER-440 units under the aegis of Italy's Enel, owner of national utility Slovenske Elektrarne. In the Czech Republic, state utility CEZ is exploring adding a second pair of large reactors at Temelin. To join the EU, Lithuania was forced to plan shutdown of the two Soviet-design units at Ignalina, the largest of the Chernobyl design type, whose 2,400 MW produced 80% of the country's generation. With unit 2 to close in 2009, the government is moving to build a new reactor at the site, and has the national utilities of Latvia, Estonia and Poland on board. Ukraine, which got almost 50% of its electricity from nuclear in 2006, is considering adding up to 11 new reactors by 2030.

According to the Red Book, installed global nuclear capacity is projected to grow from about 369 GW net at the beginning of 2005 to about 449 GW net by 2025 in the lowest case and in the high case to 553 GW net.

Source of the US power increase from 1990 to now
As of December 2007 over 110 power uprates had been approved, totalling 4900 MWe. A further seven uprates totalling about 750 MWe are pending with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and applications for a total of 1690 MWe are expected by 2011.

In 1980 the average utilization for all US reactors was 54%, by 1991 it was 68%, in 2001 it had risen to 90.7% and in 2007 it was 91.8%. A major component of this is the length of refuelling outage, which in 1990 averaged 107 days but dropped to 40 days by 2000. The record is now 15 days.

Output since 1990, increased from 577 billion kilowatt hours to 807 billion kWh, a 40% improvement despite little increase in installed capacity, and equivalent to 29 new 1000 MWe reactors. Average thermal efficiency rose from 32.49% in 1980 to 33.40% in 1990 and 33.85% in 1999.

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