Aug 5 (Reuters) - Amid renewed interest in nuclear power, governments across Europe and Asia are extending their aging fleet of nuclear plants, restarting reactors and dusting off plans for projects shelved after the 2011 nuclear crisis in Fukushima, Japan.
Countries are looking at ways to boost electricity output after the war in Ukraine that started in February caused fossil fuel prices to soar. read more
Here is a summary of some key developments:
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- Public opinion has been hostile towards nuclear power since the 2011 Fukushima incident, but the mood has shifted due in part to a recent power shortage as the hottest June on record prompted a surge in electricity demand, while soaring energy prices have boosted utility bills. read more
- Japan hopes to restart up to nine more nuclear reactors in time to avert any power crunch over the winter, said Industry Minister Koichi Hagiuda, a week after the pro-nuclear ruling party won a resounding victory in upper house elections in early July. read more
- As of July 25, Japan has seven operating reactors with a capacity of 7,080 megawatt (MW), while three others are offline due to maintenance. Many others are still going through a relicensing process under stricter safety standards imposed after the Fukushima disaster.
- In the financial year to March 2021, nuclear accounted for 3.9% of Japan's power mix, but the government still aims to boost it to as much as 22% by 2030.
- President Yoon Suk-yeol reversed the previous administration's plan to phase out nuclear energy and pledged to boost investment in the industry and revive its status as a key exporter of safe reactors. read more
- South Korea plans to increase the contribution of nuclear power in the country's energy mix to 30% or more by 2030 from 27% in 2021, the industry ministry said, pledging to resume construction of two reactors - Shin Hanul 3 and 4. read more
- South Korea has 24 nuclear reactors in operation and has four more units under construction which will be completed soon. read more
- China is the world's third-largest nuclear power producer in terms of installed capacity after the United States and France.
- As of 2021, mainland China operated 53 reactors, with a total capacity of 54.65 gigawatt (GW), slightly behind an initial goal of 58 GW by 2020 as project approvals slowed after Fukushima.
- In 2020, China said it will build six to eight nuclear reactors a year between 2020-2025 and raise total capacity to 70 GW.
- In the first six months of 2022, China added another 2.28 GW of capacity.
- Beijing approved three new nuclear power generator projects earlier this year.
- In India, nuclear power generation constitutes 3% of generation capacity. The sector has been hobbled by lack of foreign investment and opposition from critics over safety issues, counteracting plans to phase out coal-fired generation amid a crippling power crisis. read more
- Former President Rodrigo Duterte signed an executive order to include nuclear power in the country's energy mix, as authorities prepare for the phasing out of coal-fired power plants and after earlier efforts had failed due to safety concerns. read more
- Current President Ferdinand Marcos Jr indicated that he was open to adding nuclear power to the mix of the country's energy sources, a plan started by his late father in the 1960s, alongside boosting investments into renewable energy. read more
- Minister of Industry and Trade Nguyen Hong Dien told the national assembly in May developing nuclear power is an "inevitable trend" around the world, signalling that authorities may be considering resuming a plan to construct nuclear power plants.
- The programme, to build the country's first two plants with combined capacity of 4 GW in the central province of Ninh Thuan, was shelved in 2016 after Fukushima. The government had chosen Russia's Rosatom and Japan Atomic Power for the projects.
- In the U.K., the British government in July gave consent for the planned Sizewell C nuclear plant to be built in southeast England. The 3.2 GW plant is majority-owned by EDF. EDF said discussions are ongoing with the government over funding for the project and it expects to take a final investment decision in 2023. read more
- Germany may extend the life of its three remaining nuclear power plants, according to the economy ministry, as public support rises in the face of a possible cut-off of Russian gas. The three plants made up 6% of Germany's power production in the first quarter of 2022. read more
- Belgium has reached an initial accord with French utility group Engie to extend the use of nuclear power by 10 years after Russia's invasion of Ukraine forced the government to rethink plans to rely more on natural gas.
- Finnish-led consortium Fennovoima said in May it had scrapped a contract for Russia's state-owned Rosatom to build a nuclear power plant in Finland. read more
- The United States has more reactors than any other country, but the number has fallen to 92 from 104 ten years ago due to rising security costs and competition from renewable energy and plentiful natural gas.
- Policymakers are struggling to keep many reactors open. The latest shut was the 800 MW Palisades plant in Michigan in May despite efforts by the Biden administration to keep it open with a $6 billion subsidy plan known as the Civil Nuclear Credit (CNC) program. It is uncertain whether the CNC, which aims to prioritize aid to plants that previously announced plans to shut, will help save California's 2,200 MW Diablo Canyon plant set to fully close in 2025.
- A deal in the U.S. Senate announced on July 27 could spark both traditional and advanced nuclear power if President Joe Biden’s fellow Democrats pass it in Congress. The deal contains a “zero-emissions” production tax credit for some existing nuclear power plants as a carbon-free source of electricity. It also contains about $700 million for making fuel for advanced nuclear reactors, fuel that's typically made in Russia. read more
Nuclear reactors and projects
Source: World Nuclear Performance Report 2022 - World Nuclear Association
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