As of July 31, 2015, there were 436 nuclear reactors operating in 32 countries with a combined capacity of 379 GWe. In 2014, these reactors produced 11% of all electricity generated globally; down from a peak of 18% in 1996. According to a recent report released by the World Nuclear Association (WNA), global nuclear capacity is expected to rise 45% to 552 GWe by 2035 under its reference scenario. The report also provided lower and upper scenarios for future nuclear capacity. The lower scenario saw global nuclear capacity stagnating until 2030 before declining, with several shutdowns, prior to 2035. The upper scenario saw global nuclear capacity growing to 720 GWe (an 89% increase) by 2035.
The projections in the WNA’s reference and upper scenarios are in line with a report published earlier this year by the International Energy Agency (IEA) that also developed several scenarios for future nuclear capacity additions. Under the IEA report, projected nuclear capacity in 2030 was 542 GWe (an increase of 43%) under its “Bridge Scenario,” which is based on several factors, including proven technologies, a continuation of the same level of development and economic growth that underlies energy sector policies, and climate pledges made by individual countries in advance of the 21st UN Conference of the Parties scheduled for December 2015. Under the IEA’s “450 Scenario,” the projected nuclear capacity increased to 660 GWe (an increase of 75%) by 2030.
While there is a significant amount of projected new nuclear capacity additions, the WNA projects that at least 60 reactors that are currently in operation, primarily smaller reactors, will close by 2030.
The image below shows the 10 countries that, based on current projects, will add the most nuclear generating capacity by 2030.
World Nuclear Association: Plans For New Reactors Worldwide and New study shows nuclear generation to grow but more must be done
International Energy Agency: World Energy Outlook Special Report 2015: Energy and Climate Change
Mining Weekly: Global nuclear power capacity may grow by more than 45% in next 20 years
This report is part of the Nuclear Minute series. To view all featured Minutes, please click here.
Contributing Author: Eric Hanson
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