The World Nuclear Association has released a report titled 'World Nuclear Performance Report 2016 Asia edition', which states there has been an increase in global reactor numbers between 2015 and 2016, despite the retirement of seven units throughout the year.
The report says at the beginning of 2015, there were 436 operable reactors, which then increased to 439 by 2016. Nuclear construction in 2015 reached a 25-year record, building 10 new reactors, while the existing global fleet produced roughly 10% of the world’s power, making up around one-third of the world’s low-carbon electricity supply.
Despite this, established fleets in several European countries face public acceptance issues and a negative policy environment. Operators are experiencing tough economic conditions in both deregulated energy markets in parts of the US and in European countries where power prices have declined due to a growing share of renewable technologies subsidised to produce.
In Asia, the future of the Japanese fleet is crystallising with the first reactors restarted in 2015 under a new safety regime. China continues to expand as a nuclear power centre, leveraging its stable and long-sighted policy regime and economies of scale.
India is also progressing with both new units and imports of overseas technology, while South Korea is nearing completion of its first reactor exports to the UAE.
Despite the current high-rate of new builds, nuclear power alone is still insufficient for the world to meet carbon targets to reduce the impacts of global warming agreed at the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) on climate change.
The World Nuclear Association’s vision for the future global electricity system comprises a diverse mix of low-carbon technologies, where renewables, nuclear, and a greatly reduced level of fossil fuels work together in harmony to ensure a reliable, affordable, and clean energy supply.
This mix will have to find the optimal balance between the need for human development and the protection of the natural environment.
The association stated that in order to achieve this, the role of nuclear energy must be expanded. A target for 1,000GWe of new nuclear capacity must be added by 2050, so that nuclear would supply about 25% of global electricity.