OECD Reports 2012 Decline in Nuclear Generation, Projects Increases in Capacity
Dec. 5, 2013—A report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development says that while nuclear energy generation declined in its member countries in 2012, almost 52 gigawatts of new nuclear generating capacity are slated to be added to the OECD area in coming years.
Suspension of nuclear power plant operations at the 50 reactors in Japan following the 2011 accident at Fukushima Daiichi caused most of the decline. In addition, three reactors (two in the United Kingdom and one in Canada) reached the end of their operational lifetime and were shut down.
Total electricity generation and nuclear-generated electricity in OECD countries declined by 0.1 percent and 5.2 percent between 2011 and 2012, the report said. It added that the share of nuclear-generated electricity decreased from 19.9 percent to 18.9 percent.
These declines in generation were partially offset by increased production in Canada, France, Spain and Sweden as well as “record electricity production at nuclear power plants in the Czech Republic and Hungary.”
The OECD said 2012 saw a slight increase in installed generating capacity, with two new reactors beginning commercial operation in South Korea and three Canadian reactors coming back into service after scheduled refurbishments, for a total of 331 operating reactors in member countries. (The International Atomic Energy Agency lists 436 operating reactors throughout the world.)
“As a result, nuclear power generating capacity increased by 0.7 percent from 300.7 gigawatts electric (net) in 2011 to 302.9 gigawatts electric (net) in 2012,” the report noted.
The OECD also said that 19 reactors were under construction last year in OECD countries (although the construction of four Japanese reactors has been temporarily halted). In addition, 23 reactors are considered to be “firmly committed to construction,” including Turkey’s first four reactors at the Akkuyu site.
The reactors under construction or committed will add 51.6 gigawatts electric of nuclear generating capacity in OECD countries. “On the other hand, by 2018 a total of nine reactors are expected to be retired from service in the OECD area, reducing capacity by a total of 7.1 gigawatts electric.”
The report also said that despite falling prices and reduced exploration, uranium production increased in 2012.
“Preliminary, unofficial data suggest that global uranium production increased by about six percent to 58,000 tons uranium in 2012 from 54,670 tons uranium in 2011, led by production increases in Kazakhstan and Australia.”
The OECD also reported that used fuel storage capacity in OECD countries is sufficient to meet needs and will “expand as required” until permanent repositories are established. Several governments, the OECD said, reported progress in their national programs to develop repositories for the permanent disposal of used fuel and radioactive waste.
OECD, with 34 member countries, works to promote stronger economies around the world.