We look back on a mixed year for construction in the nuclear industry with the delivery of further nuclear power plants (NPPs) under threat from both the rise in renewable energy and the global trend for decommissioning in the prolonged aftermath of 2011’s Fukushima disaster. According to the latest findings of the annual World Nuclear Report, as of January 2018, there are 52 reactors currently under construction worldwide. Four NPPs began the long-term process of construction in 2017 – one each in Bangladesh, China, India and South Korea. The Chinese project, a pilot fast reactor, was launched on Christmas Day last year at the Xiapu site in Fujian province, but there were no other new NPP projects or construction starts announced in the country. Analysts suggest it’s a sign of a major shift or slowdown in Chinese nuclear policy, following the country’s domination of world nuclear construction for the past decade when it contributed over 60% of all new global sites since 2008. The sector is experiencing profound structural change. The introduction of renewable energy at scale, thanks to declining costs driven by technological advances, has increased renewable power output at the expense of conventional technologies such as coal and nuclear. Though an operating NPP can provide up to nine times more electricity per installed kilowatt than a photovoltaic plant, the challenge to the industry from renewables is tangible. China’s massive rates of solar capacity deliver over 50GW to its grid. Even when taking into account lower productivity per installed GW from solar, research shows new solar plants in China alone in 2017 will generate significantly more power than all nuclear reactors started up (four) in the same year in the entire world.
World Nuclear Industry status report 12th Feb 2018 read more »