The Independent Assessment of Nuclear Developments in the World

World Nuclear Industry Status
as of 1 January 2019

Operating fleet increases by ten—Construction drops to decadal low

Mycle Schneider, 3 January 2019

2018 for global nuclear power in a nutshell

9 reactor startups (8 less than scheduled), 7 closure decisions, 5 construction starts. Two new reactors entered Long-Term Outage, and 7 were restarted. Globally, 415 reactors are operating (10 more than a year ago), 49 are under construction (lowest in a decade).

China dominates world nuclear statistics, as in previous years. Only two countries have started up new reactors in 2018, China connected seven and Russia two. The total of nine new startups compares with 17 units scheduled at the beginning of the year. Seven units were restarted after Long-Term Outages (LTO), four in Japan, and one each in France, India and Switzerland.

Four units were permanently closed, two in Russia one each in South Korea and the U.S., while two reactors were added to the LTO category, one each in China and India. That brings the total to 415 operating reactors, 10 more than at the beginning of 2018, but still below pre-Fukushima levels and 23 units from the historic peak of 438 in 2002.

Three reactors, two in Japan, one in Taiwan, were officially closed after several years in LTO status. That leaves 28 units in the LTO category, eight less than a year earlier. The total of permanently closed reactors increases by five to 179.

The number of reactors under construction decreases from 53 to 49. This is the fifth year in a row that a fall has occurred, since 2013, when there were 68 units, and it is the first time in a decade there are less than 50. Work on five reactors started in 2018, one each in Bangladesh, Russia, Turkey—all of which are with Russian technology and investment—and one each in South Korea and the U.K. While EDF-Energy still does not count Hinkley Point C as “under construction” in the U.K., on 4 December 2018, first concrete was poured for the base slab of the reactor building, which marks the official construction start, as defined by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). China General Nuclear Corporation (CGN), EDF’s Chinese partner in the Hinkley Point C project, and the World Nuclear Industry Status Report (WNISR) apply the same definition. This is detailed in our piece “The Oddly Discreet Construction Start of Hinkley Point C”, where in spite of the fact that massive construction work has been ongoing for years, over 3,200 construction workers are on-site and several billion pounds have been spent, EDF intends to declare the construction start only in June 2019.

While China has accounted for 35 of 59 units started up in the world over the past decade and has another dozen reactors under construction, the country has not opened any new construction site for a commercial reactor since December 2016 (a demonstration fast breeder reactor not comparable to a commercial project was launched in December 2017). The nuclear industry is awaiting a central government decision over future technology choices and project siting. Construction is expected to be relaunched during the year 2019. However, there is no official government statement as to timing and ambition of future nuclear planning. Meanwhile, CGN, the largest nuclear company in China is investing heavily in non-nuclear technologies. CGN operates already 13 GW of wind power in China, Europe (running the largest onshore wind farm in Belgium) and Australia, and is currently “planning to expand footprint in America and Southeast Asia”, as a company representative told an international conference in Macao in December 2018. Even in China non-nuclear technologies are starting to dominate CGN’s capacity mix, representing now 23 GW out of 45 GW connected to the grid.

The first annual assessments from Europe also indicate a strong push for renewables that contributed 40 percent of national electricity production in Germany and Spain, as well as one third in the U.K. On the other side of the big pond, in the U.S., PV Magazine has identified a “Solar tsunami” with “an unprecedented, massive volume of solar projects” underway in the U.S. The country “might build 18 GW of solar power in 2019, and just over 19 GW in 2020”.

WNISR NEWS: Since its launch on 4 September 2018 at Chatham House in London (U.K.), WNISR2018 has been presented at events/meetings in Paris (France), Karlsruhe, Freiburg, Berlin (Germany), Washington, D.C. (U.S.), Seoul (South Korea), Beijing, Macao (China), Tokyo (Japan), Taipei (Taiwan). Additional presentations are planned for in Zürich (Switzerland), Grenoble (France) and Brussels (Belgium).

What They Say…

"Without the WNISR we would lack a sound database on the reality around nuclear new-build programs internationally."

Dr. Dörte Fouquet

Lawyer, Partner Becker-Büttner-Held, Germany, April 2018
"I rely on WNISR’s reports with complete confidence that they will be trusted and respected for the accuracy of their data and the expertise of their analyses."

Diane Curran

Attorney, Washington DC, USA, March 2018
"This 2017 World Nuclear Industry Status Report is perhaps the most decisive document in the history of nuclear power. The report makes clear, in telling detail, that the debate is over."

S. David Freeman

former Chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), in the Foreword to WNISR2017, U.S.
"Der WNISR ist eine hervorragende und wegen seiner Unabhängigkeit unerlässliche Wissensbasis für Entscheidungsträger aus Politik und Wirtschaft."

Manfred Fischedick

Vice-President, Wuppertal Institute on Climate, Environment, Energy Professor, Schumpeter School of Business and Economics Bergische Universität, Wuppertal, Germany, June 2017
"The report provides authoritative, important information that cannot and should not be ignored, regardless of one's attitudes about the nuclear industry."

John Mecklin

Editor in chief, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, USA, June 2017
"The WNISR is one of the most reliable, accurate and unbiased information sources on the status of the nuclear industry."

Tatsujiro Suzuki

Professor, Director, Research Center for Nuclear Weapons Abolition (RECNA), Nagasaki University, and Former Vice-Chairman, Japan Atomic Energy Commission, Japan, May 2017
“The World Nuclear Industry Status Report (WNISR) is an important antidote to the nuclear-energy industry’s relentless boosterism."

Frank von Hippel

Professor of Public and International Affairs emeritus, Program on Science and Global Security, International Panel on Fissile Materials (IPFM) Princeton University, USA, April 2017
"The WNISR is especially very useful to teach students the distinction between opinions and facts, and to train them to the improvement of their arguments."

Arnaud Delebarre

Professor, Energy Major Coordinator, Shanghai Jiao Tong University ParisTech Elite Institute of Technology (SPEIT), France/China, May 2017
“Fantastic job! Prepping my nuclear lecture as usual this year and WNISR again an invaluable source…It is brilliant and a service to humanity.”

Lars J. Nilsson

Professor of Environmental and Energy Systems Studies, Lund University, Sweden, April 2017
"Je connais bien votre rapport qui est une référence, y compris en France."

François Lévêque

Professeur d’économie, Mines-ParisTech, France
"The most comprehensive, detailed, apolitical and honest report on the current status of the World’s Nuclear Industry."

Laurent Segalen

Managing Partner at Megawatt-X, HEC School of Management, London, UK
“As always, WNISR is invaluable."

Peter Bradford

Former Commissioner, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, USA
“Important and crucial to receive as every year the World Nuclear Industry Status Report.”

Thomas Johansson

"Co-Chair, Global Energy Assessment, IIASA", Sweden/Austria
"Labeling it a report is somewhat misleading. It’s more like an encyclopedia filled with facts and insights."

Dave Lochbaum

Former Director of the Nuclear Safety Project Union of Concerned Scientists
Washington D.C., U.S.
"... we attach more importance to the WNISR, primarily because we believe that this report is done without the interference of interest groups.”

Jade Huang

Vice-Secretary General International Forum for Clean Energy (IFCE), Macao/Beijing, China, September 2018