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Asia's Nuclear Energy Growth

(Updated October 2013)

  • Asia is the main region in the world where electricity generating capacity and specifically nuclear power is growing significantly.
  • In East and South Asia there are 119 operable nuclear power reactors, 49 under construction and firm plans to build a further 100. Many more are proposed.
  • The greatest growth in nuclear generation is expected in China, South Korea and India.

In contrast with North America and most of Western Europe where growth in electricity generating capacity and particularly nuclear power levelled out for many years, a number of countries in East and South Asia are planning and building new power reactors to meet their increasing demands for electricity.

Through to 2010 projected new generating capacity in this region involved the addition of some 38 GWe per year, and from 2010 to 2020 it is 56 GWe/yr, up to one third of this replacing retired plant. This is about 36% of the world's new capacity (current world capacity is about 3700 GWe, of which 370 GWe is nuclear). Much of this growth will be in China, Japan, India and Korea. The nuclear share of this to 2020 is expected to be considerable in three of those countries, especially if environmental constraints limit fossil fuel expansion.

Looking more narrowly at Southeast Asia (excluding the above four countries), a 2013 World Energy Outlook report from OECD/IEA said:

Nuclear power has a limited role in Southeast Asia over the Outlook period. This reflects the complexities of developing a nuclear power programme and the slow progress to date of most countries that have included nuclear in their long-term plans. Vietnam is the most active and is currently undertaking site preparation, work force training and the creation of a legal framework. Moreover, Vietnam has signed a co-operative agreement (that includes financing) with Russia to build its first nuclear power plant, with construction expected to begin in late 2014 and nuclear to enter the power mix before 2025. Thailand includes nuclear power in its Power Development Plan from 2026. While these plans could face public opposition, the country has very limited indigenous energy resources, which is expected to be a key driver behind its development. We project Thailand to start producing electricity from nuclear power plants before 2030.

There are currently 119 nuclear power reactors operable in five of those countries of the region plus Taiwan – total of more than 95 GWe, 49 units under construction (with several more due to start construction in 2010), firm plans in place to build 100 more, and serious proposals for many more.

In addition, there are about 56 research reactors in fourteen countries of the region. The only major Pacific Rim countries without any kind of research reactor are Singapore and New Zealand.

Japan

50 units (44 GWe) operable (though many of these shut down temporarily), 3 under construction, 10 planned (total 16 GWe), also 17 research reactors.

Japan has been generating up to 30% of its electricity from nuclear power. By 2017, nuclear contribution was expected to increase to 41%, and longer term plans were to double nuclear capacity (to 90 GWe) and nuclear share by 2050. However, following the Fukushima accident in March 2012, these plans are certain to be scaled back, but the extent of that remains to be seen.

The new reactors most recently started up include third generation advanced reactors, with improved safety systems. The first of these was connected to the grid in 1996.

Japan is committed to reprocessing its used fuel to recover uranium and plutonium for re-use in electricity production, both as mixed-oxide fuel in conventional reactors, and also in fast neutron reactors.

Japan has a high temperature test reactor which has reached 950°C, high enough to enable thermochemical production of hydrogen. It expects to use some 20 GW of nuclear heat for hydrogen production by 2050, with the first commercial plant coming on line in 2025.

China

17 units in operation (13.8 GWe), 30 under construction (32.76 GWe), 59 planned (64.4 GWe), more proposed; also 13 research reactors.

China is moving ahead rapidly in building new nuclear power plants, many of them conspicuously on time and on budget. Some are leading new-generation western designs.

Chinese electricity demand has been growing at more than 8% per year. The electricity demand is strongest in the Guangdong province adjacent to Hong Kong. National plans call for some 58 GWe nuclear by 2020, requiring an average of 6300 MWe per year to be added. The Chinese industry projects 200 GWe nuclear by 2030.

China has built a small advanced high-temperature gas-cooled demonstration reactor (HTR) with pebble bed fuel, which started up in 2000. A commercial prototype HTR based on it is under construction.

Republic of Korea (South Korea)

23 units in operation (20.8 GWe), 5 under construction, 6 planned (total 15.6 GWe), also 2 research reactors.

South Korea meets 35% of its electricity needs from nuclear power, and this is increasing.

The national plan is to expand to 35 nuclear power reactors by 2030, including advanced reactor designs, and achieve 59% nuclear supply. Demand for electricity in South Korea has been increasing strongly.

In collaboration with US companies, Korea developed the 1000 MWe OPR-1000 nuclear reactor which is 95% locally-made, and may be exported to Indonesia and Vietnam. The newer AP1400 model is based on it, and four have been sold to United Arab Emirates in a $20 billion deal against strong competition.

South Korea has a US$ 1 billion R&D and demonstration program aiming to produce commercial hydrogen using nuclear heat about 2020.

North Korea

2 units partially built but subject to political delays, also 1 research reactor.

North Korea was moving towards commissioning one small power reactor, but concern focussed on attempts to develop illicit weapons capability caused this to be halted.

The USA and South Korea offered assistance in substituting two reactors which would not produce weapons-grade plutonium, and agreement for these was signed late in 1995. They are (South) Korean Standard Nuclear Power Plant type and construction of the first was about one third complete when construction was abandoned.

India

20 units in operation (4.4 GWe), 7 under construction, 18 planned, 39 proposed; also 5 research reactors.

India has achieved independence in its nuclear fuel cycle. Nuclear power currently supplies less than 4% of electricity in India from 20 reactors. The units under construction include two large Russian reactors. A further 18 reactors are planned beyond that, including four more Russian units and two modern French ones. Plans are for 20 GWe by 2020.

India is a pioneer in developing the thorium fuel cycle, and has several advanced facilities related to this.

Pakistan

3 reactors in operation, 2 under construction, also 1 research reactor.

Pakistan generates almost 4% of its electricity by nuclear, its third power reactor started up in 2011, and two more – supplied by China – are under construction. Another large one is planned near Karachi.

The government plans for 8.0 GWe of nuclear capacity at ten sites by 2030.

Bangladesh

2 units planned, 1 research reactor

In Bangladesh, the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission plans to build two 1000 MWe Russian nuclear reactors by 2020, with Russian finance. It has one operating research reactor.

Indonesia

2 reactors planned, 4 proposed, 3 research reactors.

Demand for electricity in Indonesia has been growing rapidly, and this promoted development of several independent power projects.

The government focus has changed from building large units for the Java-Bali grid to building small reactors on Bangka Island off the north coast of southern Sumatra or in West Kalimantan.

Vietnam

4 reactors planned, 6 proposed, 1 research reactor.

In Vietnam, two Russian reactors total 2000 MWe are planned at Phuoc Dinh in the southern Ninh Thuan province to come into operation from by 2020, followed by another 2000 MWe using Japanese technology at Vinh Hai in the same province. These plants would be followed by a further 6000 MWe by 2030, subsequently increased to having a total of 15,000 MWe by 2030.

Demand is growing rapidly and is expected to reach about 190 billion kWh/yr in 2015 – from 40 billion kWh in 2003. More than half of its power comes from hydro, a quarter from gas. It has a research reactor at Da Lat, operated with Russian assistance.

Thailand

2 reactors planned, 4 proposed, 1 research reactor, + 1 being built.

Interest by Thailand in nuclear power was revived by a forecast growth in electricity demand of 7 per cent per year for the next twenty years. About 70% of electricity is from natural gas. Capacity requirement in 2016 is forecast at 48 GWe.

In June 2007 the Energy Minister announced that it would proceed with plans to build a 4000 MWe nuclear power plant, and has budgeted funds for preparatory work. However, plans have stalled.

Thailand has had an operating research reactor since 1977 and a larger one is under construction.

Philippines

1 reactor proposed, 1 research reactor.

The Philippines has one power reactor completed but its operation was aborted over litigation concerning bribery and safety deficiencies. In 2007 the government set up a project to study the development of nuclear energy, in the context of an overall energy plan for the country, to reduce dependence on imported oil and coal. In 2008 an IAEA mission commissioned by the government advised that the nuclear plant could be refurbished and economically and safely be operated for 30 years.

As well as this, the government is considering two further 1000 MWe Korean Standard Nuclear Plant units, using equipment from the aborted North Korean KEDO project.

Malaysia

1 research reactor.

In 2008 the government announced that it had no option but to commission nuclear power due to high fossil fuel prices, and set 2023 as target date. Early in 2010 the government said it had budgeted $7 billion funds for this, and sites are being investigated.

See also: country papers and Emerging Nuclear Countries paper.

Nuclear Power in Asia, and Involvement with the Nuclear Fuel Cycle

  Power Reactors operable or in Operation Power Reactors Under Construction Power Reactors Planned Research Reactors Other Stages of the Fuel Cycle
Australia

 

 

 

1

UM

Bangladesh

 

 

2

1

 

China

17

30

59

13

UM, C, E, FF

India

20

7

18

5

UM, FF, R, WM

Indonesia

 

 

2

3

FF

Japan

50

3

9

17+1

C, E, FF, R, WM

S. Korea

23

5

6

2

C, FF

N.Korea

 

 

0

1

C?,FF?,R

Malaysia

 

 

0

1

 

Pakistan

3

2

0

1

UM, E, FF

Philippines

 

 

0

1

 

Thailand

 

 

0

1+1

 

Vietnam

 

 

4

1

 

** Total

119

49

100

56*

 

 

* 54 research reactors operable, 2 under construction

** The total includes 6 reactors in operation, plus two under construction, on Taiwan. It also has four research reactors. Taiwan has no other stages of the fuel cycle.

Key: UM Uranium Mining, C Conversion, E Enrichment, FF Fuel Fabrication, R Reprocessing, WM Waste Management facilities for used fuel away from reactors.

Sources:
WNA Reactor table, country papers
OECD/IEA World Energy Outlook