2 August 2015

Millenium Post (India): ‘Nuke power generation on decline’

‘Nuke power generation on decline’

Millenium Post, 29 July 2015, New Delhi

Pinaki Bhattacharya

Even if Iran fought till the end for its sovereign right to generate nuclear power, an annual report by a reputed nuclear corporate watch-dog, called “The World Nuclear Industry Status Report” in its 2015 edition has shown that nuclear power generation is on an overall decline all across the world. This includes the USA, a country most invested in generating nuclear power and nuclear weapons.

The key issues of the report are: Japan has been without any nuclear power generation for a full calendar year after 50 years; nuclear reactor building has plunged from a level of 14 reactors in 2010 to three in 2014; 62 reactors under construction, five fewer than a year ago, of which at least three-quarters delayed; and, in 10 of the 14 building countries all projects are delayed, often by years. Five units have been listed as “under construction” for over 30 years.

Prepared by four experts that includes Dr MV Ramana, an eminent Indian nuclear scientist, presently with Princeton University, the reports states: “There are 30 countries operating nuclear power plants in the world. A total of 391 reactors (three more than a year ago) have a combined installed capacity of 337 GW (5 GW more than a year ago). Not a single unit generated power in Japan in 2014, and WNISR classifies 40 Japanese reactors6 as being in Long-Term Outage (LTO). Besides the Japanese reactors, one Swedish reactor (Oskarshamn-2) meets the LTO criteria and its majority owner has called for its early closure.

There are two units that were in LTO in WNISR2014 that now fall outside the category: one South Korean reactor, Wolsong-1, was restarted in June 2015, and one Indian reactor, Rajasthan-1, is to be decommissioned. Ten reactors at Fukushima Daiichi and Daini are considered permanently closed and are therefore not included in the count of operating nuclear power plants. As of early July 2015, it appears likely that at the most two reactors (Sendai-1 and -2 in Kyushu Prefecture) will restart in Japan during 2015.”

But the condition of the nuclear power industry is in dire straits. “The French state controlled integrated nuclear company AREVA is technically bankrupt after accumulated four-year loss of €8 billion and €5.8 billion current debt on an annual turnover of €8.3 billion.”

“On 7 July 2015, AREVA’s share value plunged to a historic low, 90 percent below its 2007 peak. The company will be broken up, with French state-controlled utility EDF expected to take the majority stake in the reactor building and maintenance subsidiary AREVA NP that will then be opened up to foreign investment. The move could turn out highly problematic for EDF as its risk profile (will) expand.”

Nuclear power rates have also become highly expensive in most of Europe especially, with every electricity utility, is either being subsidised heavily by the sovereign governments or seeking escalation in whole-sale and retail prices from the public.