Plans For New Reactors Worldwide

(Updated February 2017)

  • Nuclear power capacity worldwide is increasing steadily, with over 60 reactors under construction in 15 countries.
  • Most reactors on order or planned are in the Asian region, though there are major plans for new units in Russia.
  • Significant further capacity is being created by plant upgrading.
  • Plant life extension programs are maintaining capacity, in USA particularly.

Today there are some 440 nuclear power reactors operating in 31 countries plus Taiwan, with a combined capacity of over 385 GWe. In 2014 these provided 2411 billion kWh, over 11% of the world's electricity.

Over 60 power reactors are currently being constructed in 13 countries plus Taiwan (see Table below), notably China, South Korea, UAE and Russia.

Each year, the OECD's International Energy Agency (IEA) sets out the present situation and also reference and other, particularly carbon reduction scenarios. World Energy Outlook 2014 had a special focus on nuclear power, and extends the scope of scenarios to 2040. In its New Policies scenario, installed nuclear capacity growth is 60% through 543 GWe in 2030 and to 624 GWe in 2040 out of a total of 10,700 GWe, with the increase concentrated heavily in China (46% of it), plus India, Korea and Russia (30% of it together) and the USA (16%), countered by a 10% drop in the EU. Despite this, the percentage share of nuclear power in the global power mix increases to only 12%, well below its historic peak. Low-Nuclear and so-called High-Nuclear cases give 366 and 767 GWe nuclear respectively in 2040. The low-carbon ‘450 Scenario’ gives a cost-effective transition to limiting global warming assuming an effective international agreement in 2015, and this brings about more than doubling nuclear capacity to 862 GWe in 2040, while energy-related CO2 emissions peak before 2020 and then decline. In this scenario, almost all new generating capacity built after 2030 needs to be low-carbon.

"Despite the challenges it currently faces, nuclear power has specific characteristics that underpin the commitment of some countries to maintain it as a future option," it said. "Nuclear plants can contribute to the reliability of the power system where they increase the diversity of power generation technologies in the system. For countries that import energy, it can reduce their dependence on foreign supplies and limit their exposure to fuel price movements in international markets."

It is noteworthy that in the 1980s, 218 power reactors started up, an average of one every 17 days. These included 47 in USA, 42 in France and 18 in Japan. These were fairly large - average power was 923.5 MWe. So it is not hard to imagine a similar number being commissioned in the years ahead. But with China and India getting up to speed in nuclear energy and a world energy demand increasing, a realistic estimate of what is possible (but not planned at this stage) might be the equivalent of one 1000 MWe unit worldwide every 5 days.

Increased capacity

Increased nuclear capacity in some countries is resulting from the uprating of existing plants. This is a highly cost-effective way of bringing on new capacity.

There is a question of scale, and large units will not fit into small grids. A conservative guide is that peak power demand must be met with effective installed capacity and about 20% reserve margin. Also, the largest single plant should not be more than 10% of base-load, or 5% of peak demand.

Numerous power reactors in USA, Belgium, Sweden and Germany, for example, have had their generating capacity increased.

In Switzerland, the capacity of its five reactors has been increased by 13.4%.

In the USA, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved more than 140 uprates totalling over 6500 MWe since 1977, a few of them "extended uprates" of up to 20%.

Spain has had a program to add 810 MWe (11%) to its nuclear capacity through upgrading its nine reactors by up to 13%. Most of the increase is already in place. For instance, the Almarez nuclear plant was boosted by 7.4% at a cost of US$ 50 million.

Finland Finland boosted the capacity of the original Olkiluoto plant by 29% to 1700 MWe. This plant started with two 660 MWe Swedish BWRs commissioned in 1978 and 1980. The Loviisa plant, with two VVER-440 (PWR) reactors, has been uprated by 90 MWe (10%).

Sweden's utilities have uprated all three plants. The Ringhals plant was uprated by about 305 MWe over 2006-14. Oskarshamn 3 was uprated by 21% to 1450 MWe at a cost of €313 million. Forsmark 2 had a 120 MWe uprate (12%) to 2013.

Nuclear plant construction

Most reactors currently planned are in the Asian region, with fast-growing economies and rapidly-rising electricity demand.

Many countries with existing nuclear power programs (Argentina, Armenia, Brazil, Bulgaria, China, Czech Rep., India, Pakistan, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, South Korea, South Africa, UAE, Ukraine, UK, USA) have plans to build new power reactors (beyond those now under construction).

In all, over 160 power reactors with a total net capacity of some 182,000 MWe are planned and over 300 more are proposed. Energy security concerns and greenhouse constraints on coal burning have combined with basic economics to put nuclear power back on the agenda for projected new capacity in many countries.

In the USA there are plans for five new reactors, beyond the four under construction now. It is expected that some of the new reactors will be online by 2020.

In Finland, construction is now under way on a fifth, very large reactor which is expected to come on line in 2018, and plans are progressing for another large one to follow it.

France is building a similar 1600 MWe unit at Flamanville, for operation from 2018.

In the UK, four similar 1600 MWe units are planned, and a further 6000 MWe is proposed.

Romania's second power reactor istarted up in 2007, and plans are being implemented for two further Canadian units to be built there.

Slovakia is completing two 470 MWe units at Mochovce, to operate from 2017.

Bulgaria is planning to build a large new reactor at Kozloduy.

Belarus is building two large new Russian reactors at Ostrovets.

In Russia, several reactors and two small ones are under active construction, and one recently put into operation is a large fast neutron reactor. About 25 further reactors are then planned, some to replace existing plants. This will increase the country's present nuclear power capacity significantly by 2030. In addition about 5 GW of nuclear thermal capacity is planned. A small floating power plant is expected to be commissioned by 2018 and others are planned to follow.

Poland is planning two 3000 MWe nuclear power plants.

South Korea plans to bring a further three reactors into operation by 2018, and another eight by about 2030, giving total new capacity of 17,200 MWe. All of these are the Advanced PWRs of 1400 MWe. These APR-1400 designs have evolved from a US design which has US NRC design certification, and four been sold to the UAE (see below).

Japan has two reactors under construction but another three which were likely to start building by mid-2011 have been deferred.

In China, now with 36 operating reactors on the mainland, the country is well into the growth phase of its nuclear power program. There were eight new grid connections in 2015, and five in 2016. Over 20 more reactors are under construction, including the world's first Westinghouse AP1000 units, and a demonstration high-temperature gas-cooled reactor plant. Many more units are planned, including two largely indigenous designs – the Hualong One and CAP1400. China aims to have more nuclear capacity than any country except the USA and France by 2020.

India has 21 reactors in operation, and six under construction. This includes two large Russian reactors and a large prototype fast breeder reactor as part of its strategy to develop a fuel cycle which can utilise thorium. Over 20 further units are planned. 18 further units are planned, and proposals for more - including western and Russian designs - are taking shape following the lifting of trade restrictions.

Pakistan has third and fourth 300 MWe reactors under construction at Chashma, financed by China. Two larger Chinese power reactors are planned.

In Kazakhstan, a joint venture with Russia's Atomstroyexport envisages development and marketing of innovative small and medium-sized reactors, starting with a 300 MWe Russian design as baseline for Kazakh units.

In Iran a 1000 MWe PWR at Bushehr came on line in 2011, and further units are planned.

The United Arab Emirates awarded a $20.4 billion contract to a South Korean consortium to build four 1400 MWe reactors by 2020. They are under construction, on schedule.

Jordan has committed plans for its first reactor, and is developing its legal and regulatory infrastructure.

Turkey has contracts signed for four 1200 MWe Russian nuclear reactors at one site and four European ones at another. Its legal and regulatory infrastructure is well-developed.

Fuller details of all the above are in linked country papers.

Plant life extension and retirements

Most nuclear power plants originally had a nominal design lifetime of 25 to 40 years, but engineering assessments of many plants have established that many can operate longer. In the USA over 75 reactors have been granted licence renewals which extend their operating lives from the original 40 out to 60 years, and operators of most others are expected to apply for similar extensions. Such licence extensions at about the 30-year mark justify significant capital expenditure for replacement of worn equipment and outdated control systems.

In France, there are rolling ten-year reviews of reactors. In 2009 the Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) approved EdF's safety case for 40-year operation of the 900 MWe units, based on generic assessment of the 34 reactors. There are plans to take reactor lifetimes out to 60 years, involving substantial expenditure.

The Russian government is extending the operating lives of most of the country's reactors from their original 30 years, for 15 years, or for 25 years in the case of the newer VVER-1000 units, with significant upgrades.

The technical and economic feasibility of replacing major reactor components, such as steam generators in PWRs, and pressure tubes in CANDU heavy water reactors, has been demonstrated. The possibilities of component replacement and licence renewals extending the lifetimes of existing plants are very attractive to utilities, especially in view of the public acceptance difficulties involved in constructing replacement nuclear capacity.

On the other hand, economic, regulatory and political considerations have led to the premature closure of some power reactors, particularly in the United States, where reactor numbers have fell from 110 to 99, in eastern Europe, in Germany and likely in Japan.

It should not be assumed that reactors will close when their licence is due to expire, since licence renewal is now common. However, new plants coming on line are balanced by old plants being retired. Over 1996-2015, 75 reactors were retired as 80 started operation. There are no firm projections for retirements over the next two decades, but the World Nuclear Association estimates that at least 60 of those now operating will close by 2030, most being small plants. The 2015 WNA Nuclear Fuel Report reference case has 132 reactors closing by 2035, using very conservative assumptions about licence renewal, and 287 coming on line, including many in China.

The World Nuclear Power Reactor table gives a fuller and (for current year) possibly more up to date overview of world reactor status.

Power reactors under construction

Start †   Reactor Type Gross MWe
2017 Russia, Rosenergoatom Pevek FNPP PWR x 2 70
2017 UAE, ENEC Barakah 1 PWR 1400
2017 China, CGN Taishan 1 PWR 1700
2017 China, CGN Taishan 2 PWR 1700
2017 China, CNNC Sanmen 1 PWR 1250
2017 China, SPI Haiyang 1 PWR 1250
2017 China, CGN Yangjiang 4* PWR 1080
2017 China, CNNC Fuqing 4 PWR 1080
2017 China, CNNC Tianwan 3 PWR 1060
2017 Korea, KHNP Shin-Kori 4 PWR 1350
2017 India, NPCIL Kakrapar 3 PHWR 640
2017 India, NPCIL Rajasthan 7 PHWR 640
2017 Pakistan, PAEC Chashma 4 PWR 300
2018 Russia, Rosenergoatom Leningrad II-1 PWR 1170
2018 Russia, Rosenergoatom Novovoronezh II-2 PWR 1200
2018 Russia, Rosenergoatom Rostov 4 PWR 1100
2018 Slovakia, SE Mochovce 3 PWR 440
2018 Slovakia, SE Mochovce 4 PWR 440
2018 France, EdF Flamanville 3 PWR 1600
2018 Finland, TVO Olkilouto 3 PWR 1720
2018 Korea, KHNP Shin-Hanul 1 PWR 1350
2018 UAE, ENEC Barakah 2 PWR 1400
2018 Brazil Angra 3 PWR 1405
2018 Argentina, CNEA Carem25 PWR 27
2018 China, CNNC Sanmen 2 PWR 1250
2018 China, SPI Haiyang 2 PWR 1250
2018 China, CGN Yangjiang 5 PWR 1080
2018 China, CNNC Tianwan 4 PWR 1060
2018 China, China Huaneng Shidaowan HTR 210
2018 India, NPCIL Kakrapar 4 PHWR 640
2018 India, Bhavini Kalpakkam FBR 470
2019 USA, Southern Vogtle 3 PWR 1200
2019 USA, SCEG Summer 2 PWR 1200
2019 UAE, ENEC Barakah 3 PWR 1400
2019 China, CGN Fangchenggang 3 PWR 1150
2019 China, CGN Hongyanhe 5 PWR 1120
2019 China, CGN Yangjiang 6 PWR 1080
2019 China, CNNC Fuqing 5 PWR 1150
2019 Romania, SNN Cernavoda 3 PHWR 720
2019 Korea, KHNP Shin-Hanul 2 PWR 1350
2019 India, NPCIL Rajasthan 8 PHWR 640
2020 Russia, Rosenergoatom Leningrad II-2 PWR 1170
2020 China, CGN Hongyanhe 6 PWR 1120
2020 China, CGN Ningde 5 PWR 1150
2020 China, CGN Fangchenggang 4 PWR 1150
2020 China, CNNC Fuqing 6 PWR 1150
2020 UAE, ENEC Barakah 4 PWR 1400
2020 Romania, SNN Cernavoda 4 PHWR 720
2021 Argentina, NASA Atucha 3 PHWR 800

Latest announced year of proposed commercial operation

World Nuclear Association information papers





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