22 October 2015

Early Reactor Closures in the U.S. and Sweden vs. Startups in China and Japan

Early Reactor Closures in the U.S. and Sweden vs. Startups in China and Japan

22 October 2015

This past week has seen a series of announcements of early reactor closures in the United States and in Sweden, while China started a new unit at Yanjiang (see “Yangjiang-3 Grid Connection in China”) and Japan connected a second reactor at the Sendai site to the grid. The remaining 38 Japanese reactors remain in Long-Term Outage (LTO). Entergy stated in a press release that it will close its Pilgrim nuclear plant in Plymouth, Massachussetts “no later than June 1, 2019, because of poor market conditions, reduced revenues and increased operational costs”. Trade journal Platts reported that the Pilgrim 677 MW Boiling Water Reactor (BWR) will permanently shut down as early as the spring of 2017, according to William Mohl, President of the Entergy Wholesale Commodities business segment. In addition, Entergy is expected to announce by the end of October 2015, whether it will also close its 813 MW (net) Fitzpatrick BWR in New York state, which “is facing similar economic situations” as Pilgrim, according to Mohl. Pilgrim, that originally started operating in 1972, received its license renewal only in 2012 and was thus authorized to operate until 2032. After (see "Vermont Yankee Reactor Closed"), closed in December 2014, this is the second Entergy plant that is a victim to unfavorable market conditions.

At the same time, in Sweden, operator OKG announced the "premature shutdown“of the Oskarshamn units 1 and 2. This means that unit 2, a 638 MW BWR, shut down since June 2013 for major upgrading work, will not return to service. Unit 1, a 473 MW BWR,”will be taken out of operation and transferred into service mode after the required regulatory permits have been received", according to a press release by shareholder Fortum. A third unit at Oskarshamn remains in operation.

Still in the same week, utility Vattenfall announced, that “it has been decided to end operation of Ringhals 2 in 2019 and Ringhals 1 in 2020”. Ringhals-1 is an 881 MW BWR and Ringhals-2 a 807 MW Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR).

The WNISR2015 counted 391 operating reactors as of 1 July 2015. With two units restarted in Japan, two started up in China and one unit officially closed in Sweden, the current number of units considered in operation in the world stands at 394, far short of the pre-Fukushima year 2010 with 431 reactors and the historic maximum of 438 units in 2002 (see Figure here).