The Nuclear Fuel Report

Global Scenarios for Demand and Supply Availability 2017-2035

Purchase a copy of the report from the World Nuclear Association Shop.

The 18th edition of the World Nuclear Association's biennial report on the outlook for nuclear power and nuclear fuels. It has become the definitive reference source of the world industry and is priced at £850.

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Released 14 September 2017, the report is available now.

Summary

Nuclear power currently contributes about 11% of world electricity supply and is projected by the International Energy Agency to grow steadily in the next 20 years. The drivers of this nuclear expansion include:

  • The near-zero GHG and other pollutant emissions associated with nuclear power generation.
  • The reliable and secure nature of nuclear power, particularly attractive to industrializing countries and those lacking indigenous energy resources.
  • Its general long-term cost competitiveness.
  • The industrial and human-capital benefits associated with the development and use of nuclear power.

However, in both established and potential markets, nuclear power faces an increased competitive challenge from other modes of generation, especially in deregulated markets, while continuing to face regulatory and political hurdles. Electricity demand growth is low in most of the countries where nuclear power is well-established, but remains strong in many developing countries and it is in these countries that the great majority of nuclear capacity growth is to be expected. China and India alone account for over half the projected new reactors in this report. New nuclear countries are also using the technology: the UAE has successfully completed construction of its first reactor while Bangladesh has started the construction of its first.

Until the Fukushima accident in Japan in March 2011, previous editions of this report from 2000 onwards were successively projecting increased nuclear capacity. Our fuel reports since Fukushima, have successively reduced capacity projections. The outlook is varied with the positive developments in some countries offset by negative developments in others. There are four main reasons for the adverse changes:

  • The task of reducing carbon emissions is being allocated in many countries predominantly to renewables which are receiving the largest share of financial support available for low-carbon technology. In addition, the growth of intermittent solar and wind generation is causing difficulties for nuclear operations and profitability.
  • In the US, unconventional gas is undermining the economics of nuclear and in other countries the demand for coal remains strong for economic reasons.
  • The ongoing consequences of the Fukushima accident are continuing to result in politically-inspired constraints on nuclear power. The election of a South Korean president with an anti-nuclear programme could result in nuclear phase-out in this most successful of nuclear countries. Sweden and Spain are two other successful nuclear countries where the economic case for extended operation of reactors is being undermined by subsidized renewables and nuclear-specific taxes.
  • The construction of new reactor designs is proving more challenging than expected with long delays and budget over-runs in the US, France and Finland. As a result, the roll-out of these designs in other countries is being delayed.

Three scenarios for world nuclear generating capacity up to 2035 have been prepared, referred to as the Reference, Upper and Lower Scenarios. At mid-2017, world nuclear capacity was 391 GWe (including the idled Japanese reactors). In the Reference Scenario this is expected to rise to 403 GWe by 2025 and to 482 GWe by 2035. In the Upper Scenario, the equivalent figures are 455 GWe in 2025 and 625 GWe in 2035. In the Lower Scenario, nuclear generating capacity effectively stagnates in the period to 2030 and then drops away with many reactor closures in the period to 2035.

The World Nuclear Association‘s reactor requirements model has been updated for this report, with a reassessment of the various operating factors affecting nuclear fuel demand. In particular we have reviewed and revised our assumptions for current and future capacity factors. Questionnaires sent to nuclear utilities throughout the world provided useful information to both inform and supplement the model.

World Nuclear Association Member organisations can download a PDF of the report from the Members website.


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