World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2014

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Nuclear Monitor #789, 21 Aug 2014,

The World Nuclear Industry Status Report (WNISR) 2014 was released in late July. Here we summarise key findings from the report.

WNISR notes that government, industry and international institutions consider the entire Japanese reactor fleet of 48 units to be operational even though none are generating electricity and some never will again (the Japanese reactor restart program is certain to be partial and protracted). WNISR proposes a new category called Long-Term Outage (LTO) for reactors producing no power in the previous calendar year or in the first half of the current calendar year. Only two Japanese units (Ohi-3 and -4) generated power in 2013 and WNISR classifies 42 reactors in Japan as being in Long Term Outage (LTO). Besides the Japanese reactors, one Indian and one South Korean reactor meet the LTO criteria.

Taking into account reactors in LTO, as of 1 July 2014:

* The number of operational reactors in the world drops by 39 (9%) from 427 in July 2013 to 388 in July 2014 − 50 fewer than at the peak in 2002.

* Total installed capacity peaked in 2010 at 367 GW before declining to the current level of 332.5 GW.

For comparison, as of 1 August the World Nuclear Association lists 435 'operable' reactors with a capacity of 375 GW.

Other figures are gloomy for the nuclear industry whether or not the LTO categorisation is used:

* Annual nuclear electricity generation reached a maximum of 2,660 TWh in 2006 and dropped to 2,359 TWh in 2013 (−11.4%)

* Nuclear power's share of global commercial primary energy production declined from the 2012 low of 4.5%, a level last seen in 1984, to a new low of 4.4%.

* Nuclear's share of global electricity generation fell to 10.8% in 2013, the lowest since the 1980s and well down from the peak of 17.6% in 1996.

* Only one country, the Czech Republic, reached its record nuclear contribution to the national electricity mix in 2013 (and the Czech Republic cancelled plans for two new reactors at the Temelin plant in April 2014).

* The average age of the world's operating nuclear reactors continues to increase and by mid-2014 stood at 28.5 years. More than 170 reactors, 44% of the total, have been operating for 30 years or more; of those, 39 have operated for over 40 years.

Reactor status and nuclear programs:

* In 2013, four reactors started up (three in China, one in India), while one was shut down (in the U.S.). In the first half of 2014, two started up (one each in China and Argentina) and none were closed.

* Delays have occurred in the development of nuclear programs for most of the more advanced potential newcomer countries, including Bangladesh, Jordan, Lithuania, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Vietnam.

Constructions starts and delays:

* 14 countries are currently building nuclear plants. Over the past year, Belarus has been added to the list and Taiwan removed. Of the 14 countries, only Belarus and the United Arab Emirates are building power reactors for the first time.

* In 2013, construction began on 10 reactors − including four reactors at two sites in the US, a first in 35 years. In the first half of 2014, construction began on a second reactor in Belarus and work started on a small 25 MW pilot reactor in Argentina.

* As of July 2014, 67 reactors were under construction (one more than in July 2013). Two-thirds (43) of the reactors are located in three countries: China, India and Russia. Of the 67 reactors, at least 49 have encountered construction delays, most of them significant (several months to several years). Eight reactors have been listed as "under construction" for more than 20 years.

* The average construction time of the last 37 reactors that started up in nine countries since 2004 was 10 years with a large range from 3.8 to 36.3 years.

* Several projects have been cancelled and new programs indefinitely delayed, including in the Czech Republic and in Vietnam.

Renewables vs. nuclear:

* In 2013 alone, 32 GW of wind and 37 GW of solar were added to the world power grids.

* By the end of 2013, China had 91 GW of wind power and 18 GW of solar capacity installed, solar exceeding operating nuclear capacity for the first time. China added four times more solar than nuclear capacity in the past year.

* Spain generated more power from wind than from any other source, outpacing nuclear for the first time − it is also the first time that wind has become the largest electricity generating source over an entire year in any country. Spain has thus joined the list of nuclear countries that produce more electricity from new renewables (excluding large hydro) than from nuclear power that includes Brazil, China, Germany, India and Japan.

The World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2014 is posted at