Updated on 10 January 2014
As of 1 January 2014, there were 430 nuclear reactors considered “in operation” in the world, preliminary analysis indicates. The number is identical to the situation one year ago. The main changes in world nuclear statistics during the year 2013 include four new units connected to the grid—three in China (Hongyanhe-1 & -2) and Yangjiang-1, and one in India (Kudankulam-1)—while four units were announced as shutdown definitely. Thus, in 2013, the number of units considered “operational” remained stable, while in 2012 retirements outweighed the number of startups. An entirely new development lies in the fact that all four shutdown reactors (Crystal River-3, Kewaunee and San Onofre-2 and -3) are located in the US and are the first retirements of nuclear units in the country in 15 years. An additional unit in the US, Vermont Yankee, is scheduled to be disconnected from the grid in 2014, although it had obtained a license renewal for operation up to 2032.
The number of reactors in the world considered as “in operation” is increasingly misleading because of the situation in Japan, resulting from the Fukushima events in March 2011. In 2013, only two of the officially 50 “operating” reactors have generated electricity and no unit in Japan has produced any power since September 2013. The global number of 430 units does not include the ten Fukushima reactors, but incorporates the remaining 44 Japanese units most of which have not generated electricity for two years and more.
Unprecedented developments can also be reported on reactor construction. For the first time in three and a half decades concrete was poured for new build projects in the US (Virgil C. Summer-2 and -3, Vogtle-3 and -4). Construction on Belarusian-1 started in Belarus, the first nuclear plant in a country heavily impacted by fallout from the Chernobyl accident in 1986. Three more units got underway in China (Tianwan-4, Yangjiang-5 and -6), while the UAE started work on Barakah-2 and South Korea on Shin-Hanul-2.
This brings the total of nuclear reactors “under construction” to 70 as of 1 January 2014, compared to 64 a year earlier and ten more than two years ago. As illustrated in the World Nuclear Industry Status Reports, most of the building projects are subject to considerable delays. This is no doubt one of the explanations why the increase in numbers of construction sites does not automatically translate into increasing numbers of operating nuclear power plants.