10 December 2014

Renewables International (Germany): A (delayed) review of the World Nuclear Report

A (delayed) review of the World Nuclear Report

Renewables International, 10 December 2014

By Craig Morris

Published this summer, the most recent WNR contains a new category designed to help track the large number of nuclear plants that are technically in operation but not producing any electricity. My review is unfortunately not exactly on schedule, but at least it isn’t over budget.

Better late than never? As I approach the holiday break and review things I intended to get done this year, a review of Mycle Schneider’s annual World Nuclear Report is high up on that list.

As I mentioned in my review of last year’s publication, the authors were having trouble categorizing the large number (around 50) of nuclear plants in Japan that are technically still in operation, but not operating. The new report now has a category called “long-term outage” (LTO). If a plant has not generated any electricity in the year and a half before the study is published, it goes into this new category. In addition to the Japanese nuclear fleet, a plant in India and a second in South Korea also fall into the LTO category, which currently accounts for some 15 percent of all reactors worldwide.

In 2013, four new reactors went into operation, with one being shut down in the US. Others were slated for closure, however. Construction also began on 10 new reactors, four of which are in the US – the first time the country has started building a new nuclear plant since 1979. Construction was also “halted” on two new plants in Taiwan, and a call for bids for new nuclear in the Czech Republic was canceled. Moody’s responded to the Czech decision to abandon new nuclear builds with approval.

The reason is that the cost of nuclear continues to rise – not just the cost of new builds, but also the power from plants written off long ago. France accrued a deficit of 1.5 billion euros in 2012 because it does not charge the full price for electricity. (French utility EDF wants to raise power prices, but French industry says it will leave the country if that happens.) From 2010 to 2013, the cost of nuclear power in the country increased by 21 percent.