The nuclear energy industry faces severe problems in 2019 – and beyond. Chief among them is the ageing of the global reactor fleet. The average age of the fleet reached 30 years in mid-2018 and continues to rise. The average lifespan of the current reactor fleet will be about 40 years, according to reasonable estimates. There will likely be an average of 8‒11 permanent reactor shutdowns annually over the next few decades. This will add up to about 200 reactor shutdowns between 2014 and 2040. Indeed, the International Energy Agency expects a “wave of retirements of ageing nuclear reactors” and an “unprecedented rate of decommissioning”. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) anticipates 320 gigawatts (GW) of retirements from 2017 to 2050 (that’s about 80 percent of the current worldwide reactor fleet). Another IAEA report estimates up to 139 GW of permanent shutdowns from 2018‒2030 and up to 186 GW of further shutdowns from 2030-2050. The reference scenario in the 2017 edition of the WNA’s Nuclear Fuel Report has 140 reactors closing by 2035. A 2017 Nuclear Energy Insider article estimates up to 200 permanent shutdowns over the next two decades.
Ecologist 29th Jan 2019 read more »