Unformatted text preview: Chapter 9 THE GLOBAL STATUS OF NUCLEAR POWER
© M. Ragheb
“Thinking is the hardest work there is which is probably why so few people engage in it.”
Henry Ford 9.1 INTRODUCTION
Within 40 years, according to the United Nations, the global population was
expected to rise by 32 percent to 9 billion people, mostly in the developing world. The
world least developed nations would double by 2050 to 1.7 billion, generating new
A nuclear energy renaissance is under way globally as demand for electricity and
energy in general surges and attitudes toward nuclear energy shift. As an indication of a
shift in public opinion, some prominent environmentalists now support nuclear power
recognizing that nuclear power plants produce hardly any greenhouse gas emissions.
As of 2007, nuclear power supplies 16 percent of the world's electricity and
accounts for 20 percent of electricity in the USA where the government is actively
promoting new nuclear plants through tax breaks, 34 percent of the European Union's
There are 439 working reactors worldwide, with another 34 under construction,
74 planned and 162 proposed.
There are 104 nuclear power reactors operating in the USA, generating
approximately 20 percent of USA electricity and meeting 9 percent of its energy needs.
Most of these reactors have 40 year operating licenses, but several have recently received
extensions for another 20 years. Even with extensions, the first plants will retire in 2029
and nearly all will retire by 2050. Currently 17 utility companies have plans to build 31
new reactors. Congress passed legislation to provide loan guarantees to lenders of up to
$18.5 billion to facilitate the development of next generation nuclear plants. This amount
will not go far since the price tag associated with a single plant could reach $6 billion.
Constellation Energy, is planning to build a third nuclear reactor at a cost of $4 billion in
Maryland. The Baltimore based company has begun the licensing process associated
with the plant and says that it could begin operating as early as 2015. Congress also
allocated about $386 million for the permanent storage facility at Yucca Mountain in
fiscal 2008. This is $108 million less than what the Bush administration has proposed at
$494.5 million. Yucca Mountain could open in 2017 with a total price tag of $77 billion.
The repository has been designed to hold 77,000 tons of radioactive waste, all transported
from multiple sites around the country. But the DOE suggests that the location should be
structured to hold 150,000 tons, noting that nuclear plants will only become more
productive. The nation's nuclear operators are currently storing the spent fuel on site in
dry casks that are encased in concrete. 1 Fifteen of the EU's 27 members have nuclear power plants, with the percentage of
electricity supplied ranging from 78 percent in France to 3.5 percent in the Netherlands.
France has committed to renewing its reactor fleet, Finland is building a new
plant, Germany and Sweden have committed to phasing out nuclear power and the Dutch
have reversed a previous decision to phase it out. Italy used to have four nuclear power
reactors, but it shut down the last two following the Chernobyl nuclear accident in 1986.
France has 50 nuclear power plants producing 79 percent of its electricity, and
meeting half of its energy needs. France is a substantial exporter of nuclear electricity to
other European countries. France's energy policy stems from its reaction to the oil crises
of the 1970s, when the government decided to pursue nuclear power as a means of
assuring its energy security.
In Germany, the agreement was put together under the leadership of its previous
Chancellor Gerhart Schroeder. Less than one month after he left office, he went to work
for GAZPROM, the Russian natural gas monopoly. His assignment included the
responsibility for building a pipeline under the Baltic Sea directly from Russia to
Germany. The project only makes economic sense with an assured long term market for
the gas. Much money can be made by opposing nuclear power in favor of other energy
sources, with its ability to displace them.
China gets just 1.9 percent of its electricity from 11 nuclear reactors, with 5 more
under construction, 23 are in the planning stages and there are proposals for another 54.
Russia built the world's first nuclear power plant in 1954. Industry expansion
slowed down after the Chernobyl disaster. Nuclear power plants produced 6 percent of
the energy consumed in 2005.
Iran is in the process of building a nuclear power plant at Bushehr, with Russian
help. One of the plant's reactors could go on stream in early 2008. Iran first planned the
reactor with German assistance in 1974. The Germans withdrew from the project after
the Islamist revolution in 1979, but it was restarted in 1992.
An estimated 12% of Germany's electricity consumption in 2006 came from
nuclear power. However, Germany plans to shut down all its nuclear reactors by 2020.
The government is investing in other energy sources, such as wind power, but there are
concerns that the decision could propel the country into an energy crisis.
Nuclear power accounted for just 1% of national consumption in 2005, but
projections suggest nuclear power plants could eventually meet more of the nation's
energy needs. A government-backed deal with the US to give India access to civilian
nuclear fuel and foreign technology is has run into serious domestic opposition by those
who say it compromises national sovereignty.
Japan intends to add 11 more by the year 2010 and China hopes to add 24 to 30
nuclear power plants by 2020.
Around 18 percent of Britain's electricity is generated by nuclear power, but the
last of Britain's existing nuclear plants is scheduled to be closed by 2035.
Italy banned nuclear power after the 1987 referendum in the wake of the
Chernobyl disaster. A feasibility study to build at least three or four nuclear power plants
in Italy has been undertaken.
Nuclear energy applications in the peaceful domain are widely spread including
the use of radio nuclides and propulsion. The most prominent use nowadays is its use in
electricity production. According to data from the Energy Information Administration in 2 the USA, the average retail price of electricity in December 2005 rose by 10.2 percent as
compared with December of 2004 to a level of 8.13 cents/kwh. With fresh water
shortage materializing on the horizon, in the future, nuclear energy will probably
contribute to the distillation of fresh water from the world's oceans. In the longer term it
will be needed for space exploration and colonization.
Energy demand in the form of electricity is expected to increase substantially into
the 21st century, particularly among developing countries. With their fast population
growth, about 1.6 billion people in them have virtually no access to modern energy
services. The world population is expected to reach 6.9 billion by 2010, placing demand
on food, fresh water and energy supplies.
Nuclear power, in conjunction with solar, wind and ocean thermal energy are
hoped to become an important part of future strategies of energy production that alleviate
the global concern about the increase in greenhouse concentrations in the atmosphere,
and that will shift toward hydrogen fuel and away from carbon fuels. As of 2002, nuclear
power provided about 16 percent of the world's electricity, with 441 units operating in 30
Among the developed industrialized nations, nuclear energy is presently an
important contributor to electrical energy production. It supplies about 1/6 of global
electrical energy production, and a substantial 30 percent of the electrical needs in
Numerous Mobile Nuclear Systems in submarines and surface vessels have
provided an excellent operating experience of reactors in the 40 to 200 Megawatt thermal
A number of 439 land based reactors with power in the range of 100 to 1,000
MWe or about 300 to 3,000 MWth, assuming an overall thermal efficiency of 1/3, are
producing electricity world wide.
Here, the relationship between the electrical power Pe in MWe and the thermal
power Pth in MWth in terms of the overall thermal efficiency is: ηth = Pe [MWe]
Pth [MWth] (1) where: ηth is the overall thermal efficiency.
Impediments to a wider use of nuclear electricity have been the large upfront
capital costs for building the large size electrical units offered by the manufacturers, and
their long construction times and payback periods, affecting the return on investment.
An increase in the price of uranium to $138/lb of U3O8 then back to $90/lb could
affect the future expansion prospects. A long term price around $40-70/lb is needed.
The nuclear fuel cost is about 5 percent of the electrical cost compared with 70-80
percent in fossil fuel electrical production.
Concerns about safety, nuclear proliferation, and the disposal of radioactive waste
products have also affected public and political support. Addressing these issues, the
nuclear power industry is proposing a new reengineered generation of plants offering
inherently safe features, of standardized smaller unit sizes and competitive cost of
electricity, in addition to the virtual absence of greenhouse gas emissions. 3 9.2 WORLD’S WEALTH
A person’s wealth is measured in terms of the net worth which is defined as:
Net worth = Physical assets + Financial assets – Debt liabilities (1) A person’s wealth can thus be thought to represent the ownership of capital.
Capital is only one part of personal resources, but being a measurable quantity, it is
widely accepted that it has a disproportionate impact on a household’s well being and
economic success, and more broadly on a populace economic development and growth.
A United Nations study suggests that the richest 2 percent of the world’s
population owns ½ of the world household’s wealth and that $2,200 per adult placed a
household in the top 1/2 of the world's wealthiest. To place among the richest 10 percent
of adults in the world just $61,000 in assets is needed. More than $500,000 places a
person among the richest 1 percent, which included 37 million people as of 2006.
The world's total wealth is valuated at $125 trillion. North America has only 6
percent of the world’s adult population, but it accounts for 34 percent of household
wealth. The fastest-growing population of wealthy people is in China. The average
wealth is the USA is $144,000 per person, in Japan, with a larger saving rate it is a higher
$181,000. Wealth is mostly concentrated in North America, Europe and high income
Asian Pacific countries, the so-called Asian Tigers. People in these countries form an
aristocracy collectively holding almost 90 percent of the total world’s wealth.
Half the world or three billion people live on less than 2 dollars per day. The
three richest people in the world have more money than the poorest 48 nations combined.
Some relatively developed nations, because of their large populations, still have low
thresholds of per person capital assets: in India it is $1,100, and in Indonesia it is $1,400.
Property, particularly land and farm assets, are more important in less developed
countries because of the greater importance of agriculture. 9.3 WORLD DEMOGRAPHICS
The richest 1 percent of the world’s population owns 40 percent of its wealth.
This 1 percent lives in America, Japan, and Europe. More than 1/3 of them live in the
USA; that is about 20 million people who are among the richest 1 percent in the world.
Another 27 percent live in Japan. The UK and France, between them, have another 11
percent. The wealth ended up in those countries, rather than in the countries with the
largest populations because Europe and America benefited from a lead ahead of the rest
of the world through the industrial revolution as well as colonialism. Japan figured out
what was going on in the west after Admiral Perry bullied his way into Yokohama harbor
in the 19th century. Japan realized that it would be at the mercy of the west unless it too
figured out how to use modern machinery and had one of the most modern armies on the
planet until the complete destruction of its military, many of its cities, and its industrial
capacity by 1945. By 1990, Japan recovered and had the most modern, most advanced,
and most successful economy on Earth. China and India are following Japan’s precedent
and are industrializing at a fast rate 4 The United Nations' Population Division projects the world's population to rise
from the year 2001 number of 6.1 billion, to about 9.3 billion in the year 2050. This world
population has in fact doubled since 1950. Ninety percent of the world population would
be living in developing countries. One out of each six persons will be in India alone.
The population growth is expected to occur primarily in Asia, Africa and Latin
America. The population of the world's 48 poorest nations, mostly in sub Saharan Africa
is expected to triple within 50 years, in spite of the expected hundreds of millions of
deaths from malaria and the HIV/AIDS pandemic, cutting Africa's population growth by
15 percent by 2050. Europe and Japan are expected to see a declining work force and an
elderly population due to their dropping birth rates. This predicts a very complex world
with a "new order", where some countries are growing, while others are staying the same,
and others shrinking. This will call for adjustments in social services, immigration
policies, and energy production.
This new world order could call upon a world dependent on migration to fill the
gap between nations that cannot feed their people, and industrialized nations needing a
cheap labor force. One uncertainty in this scenario pertains to the possibility of a
declining fertility rate that would be associated with the declining birth and mortality
The USA will see a projected 1 million immigrants per year. From 281 million as
a population in 2001, its population is expected to grow to 400 million by 2050.
Without migration, and a continuation of nationalistic and ethnic barriers, Europe
will start seeing a decline starting 2003. For instance, Ukraine's population is projected to
decline by 40 percent by 2050, Russia's by 28 percent, and Italy's by 25 percent. In 2000,
the 15 European Union nations recorded a Natural Population Growth (NPG), defined as:
NPG = Births – Deaths (2) of only 343,000 people. India matched that number in just 1 week.
Europe used to claim 22 percent of the world’s population 50 years ago, and
Africa, 8 percent. In the next 50 years, the situation could be reversed, with Africa's
population 3 times as that of Europe, from 800 million in 2000, to 2 billion in 2050. If a
vaccine for malaria and a cure for HIV/AIDS were identified, this number would be 300
An aging population will characterize Europe, North America, Japan, Australia
and New Zealand, as industrialized nations. Twenty percent of the European population
was 60 years or older in 1998. This number is projected to about double to about 37
percent by 2050.
The Decennial Census of 2000 estimates the USA population at 281.4 million.
As of 2006, its population is estimated to have reached 300 million. It is expected to
nearly double to 571 million by the year 2100, with a median age rising above 40. The
expectation is for the population to reach 300 million in 2011, 400 million in 2049 and
500 million in 2081. This USA population grew from 5.3 million in 1800, and 75.9
million in 1900. In 1900, the combined population of the largest four European
countries: France, Germany, Italy and England, was about twice the USA population.
However, the USA population grew 4 fold, and now exceeds those four countries 5 together. By the year 2050, the USA is expected to be twice as populous as these
With emphasis on military spending and global foreign involvement to secure
access to the depleting fossil energy supplies, the USA has been unable to adequately
fund its education and health systems and has been slipping behind other countries in life
expectancy, a measure of national economic wealth.
The main cause lies in 45 million of its citizens or 45 / 300 = 0.15 or fully 15
percent of its population lacking health insurance and inexorably falling into poverty,
with no possibility of an increased ranking in sight under a persistent debate emphasizing
private insurance access rather than public health care.
Other factors also include health problems and bad lifestyles with 1/3 of the USA
adult population 20 years and older classified as obese, with the 2/3 remaining primarily
Racial economical and social disparities contribute to the slippage: African
Americans are relatively poorer, lack health care and consequently have a shorter life
expectancy of 73.3 years; 5 years shorter than other American citizens. African
American males are the most disadvantaged at 69.8 years, slightly larger than developing
countries such as Iran, Syria and shorter than Nicaragua and Morocco. The USA is
characterized with a large mortality rate of 6.8 deaths for every 1,000 live deaths among
babies before their first birthday, again correlated with lack of health care. It is also twice
that amount at 13.7 percent among African Americans; the same as Saudi Arabia. In
2004, 40 countries including Cuba, Taiwan and most of Europe had lower infant
mortality rates than the USA.
Other countries have emphasized publicly, rather than individually financed,
education, health care, nutrition and encouragement of healthier lifestyles. Other
capitalist nations such as Canada and many European countries have universal health care
for their citizens, with emphasis on economically effective approaches to prevention and
early screening of cancer, heart disease, lung disease, reducing tobacco use, control of
blood pressure, cholesterol reduction and diabetes blood sugar regulation.
Japan and most of Europe as well as Jordan, Guam and the Cayman Islands
surpass the USA in life expectancies. To be specific, according to the USA Census
Bureau and the National Center for Health Statistics, surveying 222 countries in 2004, a
baby born in the USA in 2004 has a life expectancy of 77.9 years. This ranks as 42nd,
down from 11th, 20 years earlier. For comparison, Andorra in the Pyrenees Mountains
between France and Spain has a life expectancy of 83.5 years, followed by Japan, Macau,
San Marino and Singapore.
Incidentally, the shortest life expectancies are clustered in Sub-Saharan Africa
that is plagued by the health problems of Malaria and HIV/AIDS, droughts possibly
caused by global warming leading to famine and civil strife and competition for the
remaining resources. Swaziland has the shortest life expectancy at 34.1 years, followed
by Zambia, Angola, Liberia and Zimbabwe. 9.4 GLOBAL ENERGY RESOURCES
The World and the USA, India and China populations' growth will add a pressure
on the global energy needs and consumption. 6 With ample energy supplies providing a higher standard of living, from 1900 to
1999, the USA life expectancy at birth almost doubled from 47.3 to 77 years. Per capita
yearly gross income has increased from 2,500 dollars to 19,000 dollars correspondingly.
The USA increased its population by 250 percent in the 20th century. Instead of a
Malthusian population explosion degrading the quality of life, the rate of infectious
disease fell 14 fold, heart disease by more than one half, accidental deaths by 61 percent
and infant mortality by 93 percent. Wealth in the 20th century increased by 700 percent,
wages went up 4 times, and poverty declined 3 fold, even though the work week
decreased by 30 percent. Car ownership increased 90 fold, air pollution declined by 97
percent and commodities prices like wheat, for instance, declined by 95 percent.
Taking a glimpse back in time to the year 1900 in urban Europe and the USA,
households did not have the benefit of electricity and were illuminated by gas lights that
were expensive to run, and were prone to catastrophic explosions. There were no laundry
machines, vacuum cleaners to clean households from dirt and germs. Without the benefit
of penicillin, small cuts could be fatal. Most physicians lacked any scientific training,
and carried in their bags bottles containing no more than alcohol as a disinfectant, and
some opiates as pain relievers. The absence of refrigeration, poor sanitary conditions,
and adulteration of food lead to millions dying from spoiled or tainted food. Epidemics
of scarlet fever, yellow fever, and smallpox, were a constant threat to families' well being
and life. The air and water were polluted with coal dust, animal manure, and rotting
garbage thrown from windows into the streets. Indoors plumbing did not exist, and raw
sewage filled the streets. Only a few could afford a car, a telephone, or even a radio.
Rooms in houses were dark, humid, and chilly.
The statistical variable that measures the rate of technological progress over time
is the "Total-factor productivity." It tracks how efficiently the economy uses labor,
capital, raw materials and new technology. It grew between 1913 and 1972 by an annual
average of 1.08 percent. Between 1972 and 1995, it became 1/50 of the previous value.
In recent years, it is back increasing, caused by greater efficiency at making computers
and other manufactured goods.
Inventions that fundamentally altered the human condition are associated with
increased use of energy in general, and electricity in particular. Consider the light bulb,
which created more useful hours in a day for every human being, virtually extending the
life span. The electric motor raised the productivity in every human endeavor, from
speeding manufacturing assembly lines, to creating labor intensive devices in the home.
The internal combustion engine allowed for mass transportation. Petroleum refining,
synthetic chemicals as plastics, fertilizers and pharmaceutics made most raw materials
more valuable. Without the genetically modified seeds efficiently using fertilizers in the
green revolution of the 1970s, the World population would be now starving. The first
telegraph reduced the time to send a message across the Atlantic from a week by ship to a
few minutes. Computers are evolving society into a new Information Technology Age.
The present age of technology is characterized primarily by a genius for
reinventing and reengineering the inventions of the last technological period where they
were first invented. Existing machines and gadgets, including cars, and nuclear reactors,
can be remanufactured with greater efficiency. This leads to their prices declining even
as their safety and quality improves. The average worker in 1997 would work 1,365
hours to buy a new car, for instance a Ford Taurus. His counterpart in 1955 needed to 7 work 1,638 hours to afford the much inferior Ford Fairlane. Electrical equipment like
stoves, dishwashers, refrigerators, washers and dryers, air conditioners, have all fallen in
price since the 1950s, while providing better service in their intended use. 9.5 ENERGY UNITS
Energy consumption rates are conventionally estimated in the British System of
units in terms of the Quad (for Quadrillion) or Q (perhaps for Quintillion) units, where:
1 Quad = 1015 BTU, (3) 1 Q = 1018 BTU. (4) 1 Quad = 10-3 Q. (5) or: Thus: In the Système International (SI) system of units, the Trillion GJ unit is commonly used
1 Trillion GJ = 1012 GJ
= 1021 J
= 0.948 x 1018 BTU
= 0.948 Q
Or: 1Q = 1.05 Trillion GJ. (6)
(7) The Gigajoule , Terajoule, Exajoule, and Zetajoule units are also commonly used,
1 Gigajoule = 109 Joules
1 Terajoule = 1012 Joules
1 Exajoule = 1018 Joules
1 Zetajoule = 1021 Joules 9.6 ENERGY CONSUMPTION
With only 7 percent of the world's population in 1998, North America consumes
30 percent of the world's energy as shown in Table 1.
Primary as well as electrical energy consumption correlates with higher
standards of living and the degree of industrialization as shown in Table 2.
The per capita rate of energy use in a typical industrialized country in Western
Europe is from Table 2: 8 GJ
year -3 kWatt
GJ Joule 3.11x10 sec
cap 121 Table 1: Energy Usage in different World Economies
Economical Region North America
Eastern Europe and Former Soviet
Japan, Australia, New Zealand
Central and South America
Africa Share of total energy
3.1 Table 2: Total and Electrical Energy Usage in different World Economies
Economical Region Electricity
2.16 64 North America
Industrialized Pacific Rim
Africa, Middle East Energy
30 6.84 World Average At a World's population of 6 billion persons, one can estimate a total yearly
world energy consumption rate to maintain an industrial level standard of living need of:
year E=4 9 Since: 1 [Watt] = 1 [Joule/sec], and: 1 [year] = 3.11 x 107 [sec] Then:
MW.year 6 W
sec -9 GJ
year E=24x106 In the year 2100 where the world population is expected to attain a level of about
10 billion persons, one can estimate the yearly energy consumption as:
year E 2100 =0.75x1012 For comparison purposes, the world's current energy yearly usage rate is about:
E actual world =0.26x1012 GJ
year The total USA's energy demand is about: E USA, total =72 Quads
year Some comparisons as ratios based on Table 2 data are:
E USA, electricity
E USA, total
E Africa, electricity
E Africa, total 38.52
30 10 E USA, electricity 38.52
= = 17.83
E Africa, electricity
E USA, total 297
= = 9.90
E Africa, total
E USA, total
= = 0.31
E actual, world 0.26
This suggests that the USA's energy use accounts for about 31 percent of the world's
energy consumption, even though its population is:
or just 6 percent of the world's population, reinforcing the observation that the standard of living
and energy consumption correlate positively with each other.
Estimates of the practically recoverable fossil and nuclear fuels are shown in Table 3,
suggesting that fossil fuels can satisfy the world's energy needs at the century level. Nuclear
sources extend this capability to the several millennia level and even millions of years level,
making them practically inexhaustible. 9.7 WORLD SHORT TERM FOSSIL AND FISSILE ENERGY
The USA is the largest user of coal for energy production as shown in Table 4,
followed by China. Together, they account for about 50 percent of the world's consumption.
Extracted from the ground and used at great risk to miners and users alike, its burning releases
carbon, mercury, lead, sulfur and even radioactivity into the atmosphere. China and India are
projected to account for the largest increase in the usage of coal worldwide.
Table 3: Long Term Recoverable Fossil and Nuclear Fuels
Coal and lignite
Tar sands oil
Shale Oil Practically Recoverable
2.35 x 1012 tonnes
2.10 x 1012 barrels
3.40 x 1014 m3
3.00 x 1011 barrels
1.9 x 1011 barrels 11 Energy Content
[1012 GJ] Energy Content
_____________ 81.6 2590 4.04 x 106 tonnes
6.80 x 106 tonnes 10
>300,000 8.0 x 108 tonnes
2.4 x 1011 tonnes 2,000
2 x 107 60,000
6 x 108 4.6 x 1013 tonnes 8 x 109 2 x 1011 0.26
Uranium for U235 Converters
U238, Th232 Breeders
Lithium for DT Cycle
Oceans at 0.17 ppm Li
Deuterium for DD Cycle
(D2O in oceans)
World Energy Use/year
USA Energy Use/year Together, fossil fuels as oil, coal and natural gas, emit some 22 billion tons of carbon
dioxide into the Earth's atmosphere each year. As the world's population increases, these
emissions could increase by 55 percent by 2020. An increase in carbon dioxide and other
greenhouse gases would boost smog, ozone depletion, and global warming.
Table 4: Total and Electrical Energy Usage in different World Economies
Region Share of world
India As transportation fuel, gasoline is being used at larger rates. Table 5 shows that
the USA leads the world both in per capita use and total consumption. As developing
nations such as India and China industrialize, more cars and emissions will degrade the
Table 5: World per capita consumption of gasoline
China Gallons per capita
10 12 Natural gas, which was earlier burned out as oil fields waste, is increasingly being
used as a primary energy source. Since it is considered as cleaner and more efficient fuel
than coal or oil, its use is projected to increase by 40 percent by 2010. The USA again
leads the world in natural gas consumption, as shown in Table 6.
Table 6: Percent share of World Consumption of Natural gas.
Economical Region USA
United kingdom Share of world
4.0 Table 7: Total and Electrical Energy Usage in different World Economies
Wind Energy Share of World energy
Sources, percent (1999)
14 Growth Rate, percent
24.2 9.8 ENERGY SOURCES SUBSTITUTION
Encouraged by environmental concerns, as well as economics, industrial and developing
nations are enhancing energy efficiency and turning into renewable energy resources as shown
in Table 7. Coal is undergoing a negative growth rate. Renewable energy sources include 14
percent as biomass in the form of firewood, crop waste, and animal dung used as fuel in
developing countries instead of as crop manure. Wind energy and solar photovoltaic are
undergoing the fastest growth rates.
Renewable resources such as hydroelectric power, sustainable biomass, solar, wind,
geothermal and ocean thermal are attractive to the general public, and are hoped to contribute
to the future energy mix, being considered inexhaustible. After all, each day, the Earth
receives enough solar energy that, if fully extracted, an impossible task, would power
civilization for 20 years. Ocean thermal is even considered a negative entropy system, in that
it extracts thermodynamic order from the oceans, and operating without waste heat.
However, some of these have been already fully exploited and have limitations on their
future availability, such as hydroelectric power environmentally affecting river systems and 13 their associated fisheries. Others such as wind energy and solar photovoltaic are characterized
by low energy supply densities and need energy storage and/or backup systems from the
conventional systems when wind speeds are low or solar radiation is unavailable at night or on
stormy or cloudy days. This prevents them from providing supply on demand. They are also
characterized by low energy conversion efficiencies, which reduce their economic potential and
makes them suitable for special niche applications such as at remote sites. Low energy densities
also imply large land requirements and potential land use conflicts.
The limitations on renewable energy sources are not in their magnitude or their
availability in nature, which is indisputable and obvious. The limitations are primarily
technological and economical due to their diffuse nature. It is difficult to concentrate and then
convert their energy flows into energy services at the rates required by the urban and the
technological energy market place.
It must also be remembered that these technologies are not fully “green,” and have
significant environmental effects that cannot be ignored. To absorb solar energy, solar
collectors must cover large areas of land with efficient black absorbers. Some efficient
photovoltaic systems use highly toxic chemical elements such as cadmium. Dams for
hydroelectric power kill river systems and fisheries. Windmills blight landscapes, kill birds,
bats and insects, break down in high winds, attract lightning, and cause pollution in the form of
low frequency noise. Biomass takes land away from natural flora and fauna.
For the short term of the coming 50 years, the world is compelled to depend on fossil
and nuclear energy supplies, since it takes about 50 to 100 years for an alternate energy system
to become dominant.
Fossil fuels now supply 87 percent of the world energy needs. They also supply 63
percent of its electricity usage. Both fossil and nuclear fuel resources are sufficient in the short
term to satisfy the world's needs, as shown in Table 8. This is particularly true if one looks
beyond the “proven reserves” in conventional deposits, and considers technological advances in
exploration and extraction, creating new “resources” and leading to a larger Resource Base
RB = Reserves + Resources. (8) Over the next 50 years, fossil fuels are expected to dominate, with Natural Gas as
Methane competing with oil and coal. Fission energy already works in the form of Open Cycle
thermal fission reactors such as the Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR) and the Boiling Water
Reactor (BWR) designs. It is expected to grow through the latter part of the 21st century in the
form of closed cycle fast reactors systems such as the Liquid Metal Fast Breeder Reactor
(LMFBR). Fusion Energy should start to contribute to the energy mix on a commercial scale
perhaps between 2030 and 2100.
Table 8: Short Term Global Energy Resource Base in ZJ (Zetajoules)1
Resource Oil Type Conventional
Total Oil 1998
0.14 Reserves Resources 6.00
21.31 14 Resource
By end of
45 Natural Gas Conventional
Total Gas 0.08
930 Coal Total Coal 0.09 20.67 179.00 199.67 5.99 - 0.31 46.65 235.23 281.88 13.51 975 Open Cycle
1 ZJ (ZetaJoule) = 103 EJ (ExaJoule) = 1021 J (Joule)
Resource Base = Reserves + Resources
Includes uranium from sea water
1 tonne Uranium = 589 TJ
1 tonne Uranium = 35,340 TJ, a sixty times increase over the open cycle - 2,0003 - 120,000 Total Fossil
Uranium 9.9 GLOBAL STATUS OF NUCLEAR POWER GENERATION
As of 2008, there were 439 nuclear power plants in operation worldwide with a
total installed capacity of 369,585 GW(e), with 34 plants under construction, where:
1 GW(e) = 109 Watts(e). 15 104
58 France 54
31 Russian Federation
United Kingdom, UK 19
18 India 18
17 Ukraine 15
11 Sweden 10
8 Belgium 7
6 Czech Republic 6
4 Slovak Republic 4
4 Finland 2
South Africa 2
2 Mexico 2
2 Argentina 2
2 Slovenia 1
1 Armenia 1
0 Iran, Islamic Republic of 0
0 20 40 60 80 100 120 Number Fig. 1: Number of power reactors in operation worldwide. Total: 442. Source:
Table 9: Types of reactors and their capacity in operation and under construction as
MW(e) 16 Under Construction
16 Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR)
Advanced Gas cooled Reactor (AGR)
Boiling Water Reactor (BWR)
Fast Breeder Reactor (FBR)
Gas Cooled Reactor (GCR)
Light Water cooled Graphite moderated
Reactor (LWGR, RBMK)
Pressurized Heavy Water Reactor (PHWR)
Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR)
Rusiiab design Pressurized Water Reactor
925 41 20,933
53 35,710 7
9,499 443 369,585 25 19,905 21 China
6 Republic of Korea
Taiwan 2 Ukraine 2 Slovak Republic 2 Bulgaria 2 Islamic Republic of Iran 1 USA 1 Pakistan 1 Japan 1 France 1 Finland 1 Argentina 1
0 5 10 15 20 25 Fig. 2: Number of power reactors under construction worldwide. Total: 56. Net
electrical capacity: 51.9 MWe. Source: IAEA, 2010. 17 28
4 Italy 4
3 Sweden 3
1 Kazakhstan 1
0 5 10 15 20 25 30 Fig. 3: Number of shutdown reactors. Total: 124. Total capacity: 37.778 GWe.
Data: IAEA, 2010. The nuclear share of electricity production globally amounted to 16 percent. In
some developed nations with limited fossil energy supplies the share of nuclear electricity
is higher, such as France whose nuclear electricity share of the total electricity produced
is 78 percent as shown in Fig. 3.
In the USA, the nuclear share of electricity production is 20 percent, with the
largest number of operating nuclear units at 104 or about one fourth of the total number
of operational units worldwide. In Canada, the nuclear share is 14 percent, produced by
A number of 15 of the EU's 27 members have nuclear power plants. France has
the most plants in Europe, generating 73 percent of its electricity.
Western Europe had 150 nuclear power plants which is about 36 percent of the
world's nuclear power capacity. There they generated 30 percent of the region's
In Eastern Europe and the newly independent states, 68 nuclear power plants are
There were 84 plants in operation in South Asia, the Far East and the Middle East.
There, construction of new nuclear plants continues, particularly in India.
Developing countries in Latin America and Africa account for a meager 2 percent
of global nuclear capacity, and are not benefiting from nuclear power, based on
considerations of non proliferation and denial of dual use technology. 18 100683 United States of America, USA
63130 France 46823 Japan
Russian Federation 21743 Germany 20480
17705 Korea, Republic of
Ukraine 13107 Canada 12573
10137 United Kingdom, UK
Sweden 8992 China 8438 Spain 7450 Belgium 5863 Switzerland 5238 Taiwan 4949 India 3984 Czech Republic 3678 Finland 2696 Bulgaria 1906 Hungary 1889 Brazil 1884 South Africa 1800 Slovak Republic 1762 Mexico 1300 Romania 1300 Argentina 935 Slovenia 666 Netherlands 482 Pakistan 425 Armenia 376 1.2E+05 1.0E+05 0 8.0E+04 Iran, Islamic Republic of 6.0E+04 0 4.0E+04 Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of 2.0E+04 0 0.0E+00 Lithuania MWe Fig. 4: Nuclear power installed capacity worldwide. Total installed
Data: IAEA, 2010. 19 capacity: 375.343 GWe.. France 76.18 Slovakia 56.42 Belgium 53.76 Ukraine 47.4 Sweden 42.04 Slovenia 41.71 Armenia 39.35 Switzerland 39.22 Hungary 37.15 Korea, Republic of 35.62 Bulgaria 32.92 Czech Republic 32.45 Finland 29.73 Germany 28.29 Japan
United States of America,
19.6 Spain 18.27 Romania 17.54 Russia 16.86 Canada 14.8 United Kingdom, UK 13.45 Argentina 6.18 South Africa 5.25 Mexico 4.04 Netherlands 3.8 Brazil 3.12 China 2.15 India 2.03 Pakistan 1.91 Iran, Islamic Republic of
Korea, Democratic People’s
Republic of 0
0 20 40 60 80
Percent Fig. 5: Nuclear Share of Electricity Generation. Data: IAEA.
In Western Europe there now exists an over capacity in the electrical sector. Thus
no new capacity is being added to nuclear power plants. The same is true in North
America, where no nuclear power plants are under construction on order. Where new
generation capacity is needed, gas turbine plants with low capital intensive requirements
are being built for topping purposes. Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden 20 plan to gradually phase out their existing nuclear units. In some countries like Austria,
Denmark, Greece, Ireland and Norway, national political restrictions prevent its use.
However, for existing plants, an interesting situation exists. Their initial capital
investment has already been depreciated, and since their fuel and operational costs are
low, they are presently very competitive sources for electricity production. In fact, some
far sighted international utility consortiums have taken advantage of recent improvements
in plant output, investments for the extension of the operational lifetimes of existing
plants, and the incentives for consolidation in the regulatory realm. They acquired
existing plants from weaker under managed utilities and are operating them at a great
Table 10: Nuclear Power Reactors in Operation and Under Construction in the
World as of June 2004.
Country Reactors in Operation
of Units Argentina
Russian Reactors under
- 19 15,850 2
20,793 Nuclear electricity supplied
(TW.hr) 1 692 7.03
31.09 2 2,000 3,622
- 1 960 123.28 40.01 655
3 21 Federation
23.70 104 98,298 763.74 19.86 442 363,819 4 27 3,800 22,676 2,524.74 The total includes the following data in Taiwan, China: 6 units, 4,884 MW(e) in operation; 2 units, 2,600 MW(e) under
construction; The Russian Federation has three nuclear power plants under construction, with
plans for more. In Eastern Europe and the Newly Independent States, most nuclear
power plants have operated for more than half their expected design lifetimes. While
expansion continues in several countries, in some others, debates continue on whether or
not to finish the construction of some partially finished plants. Lately, the Ukraine has
agreed to close the remaining Chernobyl units based on the RBMK-1000 design, in favor
of obtaining foreign aid, which has not materialized from the USA toward building
modern safer units.
The Far East and South Asia are the regions where nuclear power continues to
grow in the short term with the objective of satisfying anticipated a future large regional
Japan does not have any basic energy resource and relies on imported LNG and
oil from different countries. It also relies on nuclear electric power generation
notwithstanding the history of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
About 29 percent of Japanese power is generated from nuclear plants. There are
55 units are in operation, 2 are under construction, and 11 planned. Japan has 17 research
The Japanese reactors are all of third generation type having modern safety
systems. Japan plans on doubling its nuclear capacity to 90 GWe by 2050 to meet its
obligation for limiting green house gases emissions under the Kyoto protocol.
Japan has a high temperature test reactor operating at 950 oC. This is high enough
to enable thermo chemical production of hydrogen. Japan plans to use some 20 GWth of
nuclear process heat for hydrogen production by 2050. The first commercial plant is
planned to be started in 2025. 22 Japan suffered a powerful earthquake in July 2007. It reignited fears of radiation
leakage from nuclear power plants, forcing the shutdown of a major nuclear reactor.
Ever since the shutdown, Japan has had to make up for the lost electricity with gas fired
power. Utilities have been importing as much LNG as storage facilities will allow,
paying premiums of about 50 percent over benchmark USA natural gas prices.
As a result of new Japanese government guidelines, nuclear plant operators will
have to analyze seismic events over a 130,000 year span, in stark contrast to the current
mandated 50,000-year period. Geological faults screened to be active could nullify new
reactors site proposals and even lead to closures of some operational nuclear capacity.
Regulators may delay or cancel some of the 10 GWatts in new nuclear capacity slated to
come online by 2015.
Republic of Korea
About 45 percent of South Korea’s power requirement is met with nuclear power
plants. Like Japan, Korea also does not have any basic oil or gas energy source. It has
20 nuclear reactors in operation, 1 under construction, and 7 planned. It also has 2
It has a plan to expand to 28 reactors and include advanced reactor designs and
achieve 60 percent nuclear power supply 2035. Korea has an alliance with the USA to
expand its nuclear generation capability. It has committed $1 billion plan for research
and development and a demonstration program to produce commercial hydrogen utilizing
nuclear heat by 2020.
India has signed an accord with the USA for expanding its nuclear power
generation capability. It has attained nuclear arms production capacity and successfully
tested nuclear devices. It has not signed the nuclear non proliferation treaty. It has 15
units in operation, 8 under construction, 24 planned and has also 5 research reactors.
Nuclear power currently supplies about 4 percent of its total power requirement. It has
achieved independence in its nuclear fuel cycle.
To fuel its rapidly growing economy India needs massive expansion of power
generation. But considering the environmental impact cannot go for more coal plants. It
does not have enough oil and gas of its own. Neither has it assured access to regional or
international energy source. So it is looking forward to expand its nuclear generation to
satisfy its need for energy security. By 2020 it is targeting an increase to 20 GWe by
starting up another 24 units.
India is a pioneer in developing the thorium fuel cycle, and has several advanced
facilities related to it.
China’s power demand expands at 8 percent per year. It is trying every option to
secure assured growth of power generation. It has mostly coal plants and has been one of
the major polluters spreading mercury emissions globally as far as the USA. It has
realized the adverse impact on its own population and is opting for environmental 23 friendly power generation. It has significant reserve of oil and gas, but to fuel its growth
it is aggressively accessing regional and international resources. It has a good trade
relation with Iran, is setting up energy import projects with Russia, and Chinese
companies are active in Africa. It is exploring possibilities of gas import from Myanmar
It is expanding its nuclear power generation with 10 units already in operation. It
has 5 more under construction, 13 planned and 50 proposed. Its national plan indicates
40 GWe by 2020 and 240 GWe of installed nuclear capacity by 2050.
China has built a pilot high temperature gas cooled reactor (HTGR) with pebble
bed fuel in 2000. A commercial prototype HTGR is expected to start by 2010. It is also
partnering with South Korea to produce hydrogen.
Pakistan meets about 3 percent of its power demand through nuclear power
plants. It started its second nuclear plant in 2000 and the third supplied by China is under
construction. It has 2 active reactors, 1 under construction, 2 planned. It also has 1
research reactor. It has a plan to expand its nuclearcapacity to 7.5 GWe by 2030.
Taiwan meets 20 percent of its electricity demand from nuclear plants. It has 6
reactors in operation and 2 under construction. The plants under construction are third
generation advanced plant.
Democratic People Republic of Korea (DPRK)
North Korea partially built 2 units that remain unfinished after the non fulfillment
of an international “Framework agreement” with USA Clinton administration. It was
close to commissioning a small reactor but halted its construction under international
NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS CONSTRUCTION
One in Argentina, the Atucha plant near the capital Buenos Aires.
Two in Bulgaria, both near the northern town of Belene.
Five in China, including two in Taiwan.
One in Finland at Olkituoro, will be the world's largest single unit when it is
finished. Scheduled to be on line by 2011, it is being built by French nuclear group Areva
and Germany's Siemens.
France has one plant being built at Flamanville in Normandy, scheduled to be on
line in 2012. France's latest addition at Flamanville will be the third reactor on the same
site and will bring the country's fleet up to 60 nuclear power plants.
Six plants in India are being built to add to the country's existing 17 operational
facilities. India plans to build a further seven. 24 Iran is trying to build one plant at Bushehr on the Gulf coast in the south. It is the
subject of close inspection by the IAEA and the basis of diplomatic tensions between Iran
and the West.
Japan has one power plant under construction which is being built by the Tokyo
Electric Power Company. It has been delayed until 2015/16, a year later than planned to
comply with tougher safety plans.
Three are being built in South Korea.
Pakistan has one plant under construction at Kundian in the Punjab province.
This will bring Pakistan's tally of operational units to three when it is online.
Russia is building seven nuclear power plants to add to its 31 operational facilities
and is helping China with its projects.
Two are being built in northwest Ukraine.
The United States is building one nuclear power plant in Tennessee.
Finland's 1,600 megawatt Olkiluoto 3 reactor is seen as a test case for Europe's
nuclear future. It was originally scheduled to open in 2009 but has been delayed until
2011 due to slower-than-expected construction work. When complete, Olkiluoto, which
will cost 3 billion euros ($4.4 billion), will be the world's largest single unit and Western
Europe's first new reactor for over a decade. 9.10 ANTICIPATED SHORT TERM FUTURE ENERGY NEEDS
The need for nuclear Power would not be so urgent if the demand for electricity
would remain constant at the present level. However, 75 percent of the 6 billion people
world's population lives in developing countries that are trying to catch up with the
standard of living in the developed nations, with a resulting increase in the demand for
electricity. These people consume a disproportionate 36 percent of primary energy, and
1.6 billion of them have no access to modern energy services that are taken for granted in
the industrialized nations. The United Nations median estimate is for an additional 4.4
billion people addition to the world population, an increase of 75 percent, by the year
2100. This addition to the world population will increase the need for additional
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report on Emission
Scenarios , projects that the global primary energy use will increase from 1.7 to 3.7
times between the year 2000 and the year 2050, with a median increase by a factor of 2.5
times, as shown in Table 11.
Electricity demand is expected to grow by a factor of 8 in the high growth
scenarios associated with the new Information Technologies. Even in an energy
conservation environment, the increase is expected to be by a factor of 2, with a median
increase by a factor of 4.7.
The scenarios consider future accelerating improvements in the final energy use
intensities from 1 to 2 percent per year, compared to the average value in the 20th century
of about 1 percent per year. The Final Energy Intensity (FEI) is defined as the ratio:
FEI= Sum of Energy Delivered to End-user
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) 25 (9) This serves as a measure of energy use efficiency improvements at the end-user
side such as the use of more energy efficient appliances, of structural economic change,
and for behavioral change such as conservation. Higher final energy intensity values are
associated with lower total energy requirements. Lower final energy intensities normally
result from a large share of electricity in the overall energy mix.
Nuclear electrical power needs are expected to range from the present 350
Gigawatts electric (GW(e)), to 5,200 GW(e), with a median of 1,700 GW(e). These
projected growth levels would require the addition of 50 to 150 GW(e) per year of
nuclear electrical capacity over the period of 2020 to 2050, even without the
implementation of policies aimed at the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from
Table 11: Anticipated primary and Nuclear Energy Demand Year Lower
1480 Median Lower
5200 Median 350
1700 If nuclear energy were also needed not just for the production of electricity, but
also for the production of fresh water from sea water and brackish water through the
process of desalination, the required nuclear capacity would be higher. The need would
be even higher if the world needs to adopt a non carbon energy system based on
hydrogen, and nuclear energy would be used in the chemical processes dissociating water
to obtain the hydrogen, such as high temperature electrolysis. 9.11 CHINA’S NUCLEAR ENERGY DEVELOPMENT
China is considering spending $8 billion to build 4 nuclear power plants. Three
foreign companies are vying for the contract to build the first third generation reactors in
China: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania based Westinghouse Electric Company, France's Areva
and Russia's Atomstroiexport.
It plans to invest some 400 billion yuan ($49.3 billion) in building around 30 new
nuclear reactors by 2020, bringing its total installed nuclear capacity to 40 GW(e). 26 Currently it has nine operating reactors that supply around 2.3 percent of its
electricity needs, but aims to boost the amount of power it gets from nuclear plants to 4
percent within 15 years.
It has been building up its domestic manufacturing capacity with an eye on
eventual exports and global competition in the energy production market. According to
He Yu, general manager of China’s Guangdong Nuclear Group: “Introducing third
generation technology will swiftly promote our own technology. It could even create
conditions for us to export nuclear technology in the future.” 9.12 STATUS OF NUCLEAR GENERATION IN THE USA
Six to ten nuclear reactor units are expected to be ordered within the coming five
years in the USA. Since the accident at Three Mile Island in 1979, the worst such
incident in USA history, no company has followed through with new plans to build a
nuclear plant since.
Under the 2005 energy bill, electric utilities are in line to get $3.1 billion in tax
credits to build new nuclear plants, with the first two plants to be built receiving
substantially more than those that follow.
One impediment to the approval of new plants is the absence of a repository or
storage area for nuclear waste in the USA like the one under study at Yucca Mountain in
the Nevada desert. By realizing that 95 percent of the energy is left in the spent fuel when
it is discharged from fission reactors, uranium will ultimately become scarce; suggesting
that nuclear fuel reprocessing technology will make spent fuel a tremendous resource.
Without any new plants construction, it is remarkable that an increase in the
production of nuclear electricity in the USA has occurred, as shown in Table 12.
Table 12: Nuclear Electricity Generation in the USA
2000 Electrical Energy(109 Kw.hr)
756.5 The figure for 2000 is 4 percent higher than for 1999, and 12.3 higher than for
1998. The 12.3 percent increase corresponds to satisfying the needs of 6.3 million
residential, commercial, industrial and public users, at an average of 13.14 [MW.hr] per
A consolidation process has happened, and many operations were merged. Some
far sighted power producers purchased power plants from utilities, which prefer to
become power distributors rather than power producers, at quite advantageous prices. In
fact, a fragmentation process has occurred, where the electrical utilities have been
polarized into power producers and power distributors. Electricity being a service as well
as a commodity, some experts question the long term viability of those short sighted
utilities that have morphed themselves into power purchasers and lost control of their
electrical supply under the pressure of the deregulation process. 27 9.13 FUTURE OUTLOOK FOR NUCLEAR GENERATION
There exists a consensus that renewable energy sources should be fully exploited
in the future whenever possible in their appropriate niches, particularly in arid regions
and rural areas with low demand densities. Only a minute amount of 130 MW(e) of
photovoltaic electricity capacity using solar electric cells is available . Since 1980, the
USA Department of Energy (USDOE), spent $6 billion on solar, $2 billion on
geothermal, $1 billion on wind, and $ 3 billion on other renewable energy sources.
However, renewable energy sources other than hydroelectric power still remain at 2
percent of the USA electric capacity, most of it is in the form of biomass as wood
byproducts burned to produce power for the wood products industry.
In a 20 to 100 TW(e) (1 TW = 1 TeraWatts = 1012 Watts) world, dependence can
only be on fossil and nuclear energy sources. The feasible increment of one windmill
with a capacity of 20-100 MW(e), is welcome, but is limited in its contribution. Even
with renewable energy sources taking a part in future energy options, energy backup will
have to be based on nuclear and fossil sources.
The USA's more than 90 quadrillion (1 quadrillion = 1015) British Thermal Units
(BTUs) consumed in the year 2000, are primarily based on fossil and nuclear sources,
and such dependence can only be realistically expected to continue in the next century.
In the hands of the consolidated surviving far sighted and well managed nuclear
utilities, the nuclear industry is acting on the following priorities that would enhance its
long term viability:
1. Shift in emphasis in nuclear energy use:
Nuclear energy production will be called upon to shift its emphasis from just
producing electricity to the emerging need of producing a mix of electricity, hydrogen
fuel, and process heat for desalination and industrial processes.
Table 13: World Uranium production, 2004.
Million lbs U O Percentage 18
100 3 Africa
Total 8 Hydrogen fuel produced from high temperature electrolysis, would require a mix
of electricity and process heat, and would need a new generation of reactor designs based 28 on the High Temperature Gas Cooled Reactor (HTGR). Hydrogen from water would
become an energy carrier providing transportation fuel that is carbon free since the
product of its combustion is water instead of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels. This could
become nuclear energy's major contribution in avoiding the global effects of fossil fuels
green house gas emissions.
Whereas there exists an immediate shortage of energy or not, there definitely
exists a shortage of fresh water supplies, particularly in arid regions of the world. This is
leading to local conflicts for the control of fresh water supplies as is occurring in the
Middle East conflict. In this regard desalination requires a different type of reactor
concept that does not exist, consisting of small unit sizes, low temperature, simple
technology reactor designs that are inherently safe, proliferation resistant and operating at
low power densities.
2. Proliferation resistant regimes:
This is crucial to gain political support for its use in developing nations, where the
greatest need for nuclear power is identified. It is also crucial for the industrialized
nations to acquiesce in the transfer of a technology that is perceived as being of a dual
purpose; civilian and military, in nature.
In addition to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), the Safeguards regime
and the export controls of nuclear materials, any new nuclear reactors and fuel cycle
designs must facilitate the safeguarding of nuclear materials. The use of highly enriched
fuel can be avoided, and new designs should facilitate the verification of international
agreements on the peaceful use of nuclear materials.
A counter current is the adoption of the USA of a “Counter Proliferation Policy,”
that is weakening and possibly destroying the existing “Non Proliferation Regime.”
3. Cost Reductions.
These first involve improvements in existing operations, engineering support,
strategic management, nuclear fuel supply and spent fuel disposition. During the 1990s
such measures increased the available power at nuclear power plants by 28 GW(e), which
is equivalent to building 28 new power plants of 1,000 MW(e) unit size.
To be able to build a new generation of nuclear power plants, the nuclear industry
must demonstrate a capability to reduce the required construction costs. This would have
to include building smaller size plants in the 500 MW(e) range to compete with the wave
of building gas fired topping units that are being built by the USA power producing
utilities to satisfy peak electrical demand, under the umbrella of deregulation of the utility
industry. These smaller size units would also be definitely capable of satisfying the
demand in small electricity grids in developing countries. The possibilities in this regard
would include simpler and safer designs that will use factory built structures components.
These plants would depend on modular units for fast installation, and on passive fail-safe
In the USA, nuclear power had the lowest cost of electricity production after
hydroelectric power in 2004. 29 Table 14: USA Electricity Costs, 2004.
4. USA cents/(Kwe.hr)
1.68 Publicly supported waste disposal options. The amounts of radioactive wastes produced by the nuclear industry are relatively
small, compared with the toxic wastes produced by fossil fuels and even solar
photovoltaic systems. Being small in size, "confinement" is a feasible strategy that must
be eagerly pursued by the power producers themselves, not just by proxy government
agencies and must be technically proven. In contrast, for fossil fuel combustion, the
amounts produced, including greenhouse gases, toxic gases like the Nitrogen Oxides
(NOx) and the Sulphur Oxides (SOx), particulate matter, heavy metals such as mercury,
and even radioactivity, are so large that they cannot be confined. The only economical
approach is a "dispersal" strategy involving dilution and release to the atmosphere and
Most of the waste from nuclear power plants is of the low radiation level
category, and can be simply handled and transported. Its disposal near the surface will
decay by a factor of 100 to the natural radiation level within about 200 years. This low
level waste is also not just radioactively toxic, but is also chemically toxic, and its surface
disposal should still be engineered so as to avoid its leakage to the water table. High
level waste resulting from spent or used fuel is the smallest part of nuclear waste. About
30 metric tonnes are discharged annually from a 1,000 MW(e) plant. The total amount
discharged through the end of 1999 worldwide is 220,000 metric tonnes. About 75,000
metric tonnes have been reprocessed.
The only operating disposal site is the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico
in the USA which became operational in 1999. Another site for disposal in volcanic tuff
is being pursued at Yucca Mountain in the USA. Other countries like Belgium, Canada,
Finland, France, Japan, Sweden and Switzerland are also engaged in deep disposal
studies. There does not exist yet an authorized commercial facility.
4. Improved safety:
The Three Mile accident and the Chernobyl accident in 1986 emphasized the
human factor role in plant operations. Whereas existing facilities have been upgraded,
from the operational and hardware perspective, it must be recognized that no new
facilities will be built based on the existing reactor designs. The only recourse is to seek
inherently safe and simple reactor designs depending on fail safe systems and passive
safety features that avoid human intervention in the case of transients or accidents.
Regulatory procedures could more effectively focus on end results such as low off site 30 radiation exposure levels to members of the public in the case of accidents. The current
emphasis appears to be on procedures that give feelings of safety, but may not be relevant
to the end goal of protecting the public's safety.
Safety and cost effectiveness go hand in hand: investors will only support new
plants that are both safe and cost effective. It must be recognized that the safety level,
being inversely proportional to the risk level, is as much a factor in the price of
electricity, as are the capital cost, the fuel cost and the operation and maintenance costs.
NUCLEAR RENAISSANCE IN THE USA
By 2006, no new nuclear plants have been built in the USA in more than 30 years,
but that may change because of several trends:
1. Global energy demand is expected to keep growing by more than 50 percent over the
next 20 years, according to the USA Energy Information Administration estimate.
2. Fossil fuels such as natural gas and petroleum are getting increasingly expensive.
3. Public support for nuclear power seems to be reborn. Polls conducted by the Nuclear
Energy Institute in May 2005, found that 70 percent of the 1,000 people surveyed
supported nuclear power.
4. The passage of a federal energy bill, signed into law on August 8, 2005, offering
financial incentives, liability protections and research funding to the nuclear industry.
5. Some prominent and respected environmentalists, considering the threat of global
warming, are accepting nuclear power as part of the future energy mix. The mainstream
environmental community still remains opposed, but the defections mark a significant
departure for a movement that was once rock solid in opposition to nuclear power.
ENERGY BILL OF 2005
The 2005 energy bill includes provisions that should advance nuclear power in the
next decades: a new test reactor for hydrogen production at the Idaho National
Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL), an extension of industry funded
liability protection for nuclear facilities and incentives to jump-start construction of some
advanced design reactors.
This federal energy bill is expected to help jump start the nuclear power industry
through four key provisions:
1. A 20 year extension of the Price Anderson Act, which provides liability insurance that
indemnifies companies that design and build nuclear power plants.
2. An allocation of $1.2 billion to fund research on next generation nuclear power plants,
including designs that would produce hydrogen as an energy carrier.
3. Up to $2 billion to offset the costs of regulatory or legal delays in the licensing and
construction of new nuclear power plants. This includes up to $500 million each for the
first two new plants, and up to $250 million for the third, fourth, fifth and six new plants
to be built.
4. A production tax credit of 1.8 cents/(kW.hr) of energy produced for the first eight
years of a new nuclear power plant's operations.
FORMATION OF NUCLEAR POWER CONSORTIA 31 The nuclear industry can point to several advances: existing plants are more
efficient and cost effective, designs for the next generation of reactors makes them
reliable and safe, standardized construction plans and a streamlined licensing process
should help make nuclear power an attractive investment.
A consortium designated as NuStart Energy was organized in response to the
2005 USA Energy Bill and announced locations in 6 states as possible sites for new
nuclear power plants. Four of the six states already house operating nuclear power
plants. The sites, by location, are:
1. Scottsboro, Alabama: The Bellefonte Nuclear Power Plant, an unfinished site owned
by the USA government owned utility Tennessee Valley Authority.
2. Port Gibson, Mississipi: The Grand Gulf Nuclear Power Station, owned by the Entergy
3. St. Francisville, Louisiana: The River Bend Nuclear Power Station, owned by Entergy.
4. Aiken, South Carolina: The Savannah River Site, a USA Department of Energy
nuclear weapons laboratory.
5. Lusby, Maryland: The Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Plant, owned by Constellation Energy.
6. Oswego, New York: The Nine Mile Point Plant, owned by Constellation Energy.
The six sites chosen by NuStart are owned either by a consortium member or by
the USA Department of Energy.
The consortium, hopes to work on two advanced plant designs. NuStart President
Marilyn Kray said that: “The four sites with operating power plants have the most
comprehensive licensing basis, and the five sites housing power plants have the benefit of
established transmission systems.”
The consortium will evaluate the sites on 75 factors including seismic activity,
availability of water and emergency preparedness issues. It is sending letters to state and
local politicians and development leaders to determine what incentives they might offer
to attract the two proposed plants.
The NuStart consortium appears not worried about protests from environmental
activists at the local level, but does expect some resistance from environmentalists on the
The NuStart consortium consists of nine utilities, including Exelon, Entergy, and
Duke Energy, as well as nuclear reactor manufacturers GE Energy, a unit of General
Electric, and the Westinghouse Electric Company, a unit of the British government
owned British Nuclear Fuel Limited (BNFL) Plc. GE is a parent in the joint venture that
owns Microsoft-National Broad Casting system (MSNBC). In 2006 both GE and the
Toshiba companies have presented bids to purchase the Westinghouse Company.
Under the USA Department of Energy’s Nuclear 2010 program, half of the
estimated $520 million cost of the project would be shouldered by the Department of
Energy and half will be paid by the consortium members.
The consortium expects to apply for licenses in 2008. Construction could then
begin in 2010 with completion in 2014.
In his $3.8 trillion budget plan for 2011, President Barack Obama called for
boosting loan guarantees to $55 billion to help jump-start construction of USA nuclear 32 plants. In his January 26, 2010 State of the Union address, the president urged “building
a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country." His words marked
a shift toward more public support for an industry that has brought just one new USA
nuclear power plant online in 20 years.
Administered and pushed by the Department of Energy, the financing scheme
would cover as much as 80 percent of the likely $7-10 billion-plus cost of designing,
licensing and building each new USA nuclear reactor that receives a loan guarantee. The
guarantees would extend up to 30 years.
At President George Bush’s behest, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 provided $13
billion in subsidies to the nuclear power industry for research, construction, operations
and site cleanup, and it authorized the loan guarantees. The Department of Energy
selected recipients for an initial round of $18.5 billion in guarantees.
Four projects at the top of DOE’s list for a first round, culled from 19
applications, all are facing squabbling among partners, cost overruns and reactor design
difficulties. Fig. 6: Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant in Lusby , Maryland, south of Washington D. C. operated
by Constellation Energy. As of 2010, these projects were under serious consideration in the USA:
Summer Station, South Carolina
The Summer Station Nuclear Station’s proposal to add two 1,117-megawatt
reactors to its Fairfield County, S.C., site, which currently operates a single reactor. The
new reactors would be Westinghouse AP 1000s, not in operation anywhere yet and under
new scrutiny from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission over the design of the shield
building and other issues. The station’s owner warned that the projected cost of the
reactors could be $500 million higher than expected.
33 Vogtle Site, Georgia
An expansion plan at the Vogtle site in Waynesboro, Ga., which currently
operates two reactors with a total of 2,430 megawatts of capacity. The plant’s owners
want to nearly double that by adding a pair of the Westinghouse AP 1000s. In addition to
the hurdles faced by the reactors, the project is the subject of a lawsuit over its finances.
Calvert Cliffs, Maryland
A plan to add a 1,600-megawatt reactor at the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant,
which operates two reactors near Lusby, Md., with a combined output of 1,750
megawatts. The plant's owner has chosen Areva’s Evolutionary Power Reactor. The first
installation of that reactor in Okiluoto, Finland, is running two to three years behind
schedule, with cost overruns pushing the price from $4.4 billion to $6.5 billion. And the
design has not yet received certification from the NRC.
The Calvert Cliffs plant is one of a six sites being considered for a new advanced
reactor by the NuStart consortium. When built, it would be the USA’s first new
commercial reactor since the 1979 Three Mile Island accident.
It will cost $520 million to develop a new reactor design and submit the first two
plants licensing applications. A new plant would start operations in 10 years at the
At the local level in Calvert County, leaders are supportive of an expansion of the
plant. Linda Vassallo, director of the county's economic development department,
anticipates that a new reactor at Calvert Cliffs could bring in 250 to 400 permanent jobs
as well as more than 2,000 construction jobs. The existing plant pays more than $15
million in annual property taxes to the county.
South Texas Project, Texas
The South Texas Project’s bid to become the nation’s largest nuclear power plant
by adding a pair of reactors to its Matagorda County facility for a total generating
capacity of more than 5,000 megawatts — enough electricity to supply the needs of about
2 million homes and businesses. STP’s plans are threatened by a courtroom squabble
among its partners over the estimated cost of the expansion, which has skyrocketed from
$6 billion to $17 billion. The Texas project is the only proposal on the loan guarantee list
that calls for using a reactor — General Electric’s Advanced Boiling Water Reactor —
currently in operation. 9.14 POSITION OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL MOVEMENT
A reason for the reborn public support comes from the environmental movement.
Several prominent and respected environmentalists have said they are open to nuclear
power, if not outright supportive.
It is recognized that nuclear energy produces none of the sulfur dioxide, nitrogen
oxide and carbon dioxide that are spewed into the atmosphere when fossil fuels are 34 burned. It is greenhouse gas free. The State of Washington nuclear power plant, for
example, kept 8,000 tons of sulfur dioxide emissions, 13,500 tons of nitrogen oxide
emissions and 7.6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions out of the sky in 2004.
Without even considering global warming, avoiding these emissions helps areas where
car and industrial emissions degrade air quality.
Renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, and hydroelectric are also
emission free sources. However, wind and solar are a small part of the USA energy
production and have become smaller in recent years. Hydro power now runs afoul of
efforts to protect native fish, particularly in the Northwest USA.
Hydrogen is considered as the energy carrier of the future. To produce it,
electricity and heat energy are needed. This becomes a greenhouse gas problem if
producing the electricity and heat to produce the hydrogen also produces carbon dioxide.
It is not a greenhouse gas problem if the vast amounts of electricity used in electrolysis
come from nuclear power. Solar and wind power can contribute but will not suffice to
supply the USA transportation, industrial and residential energy needs.
Renowned ecologist James Lovelock in 2004 announced support for nuclear
power. He was joined by Patrick Moore, co founder of the Greenpeace movement, and
the Whole Earth Catalog founder Stewart Brand.
Greenpeace founder Patrick Moore and head of Greenspirit Strategies testified
before the USA Congress in April 2005: “There is now a great deal of scientific evidence
showing nuclear power to be an environmentally sound and safe choice. A doubling of
nuclear energy production would make it possible to significantly reduce total
(greenhouse gas) emissions nationwide. In order to create a better environmental and
energy-secure future, the (USA) must once again renew its leadership in this area.”
Other key environmentalists expressed the view that nuclear power might be
worth another look. These include author Jared Diamond, World Resources Institute
president Jonathan Lash, and British bishop and environmental leader Rev. Hugh
Britain's Hugh Montefiore, a longtime trustee of Friends of the Earth made a
pronouncement: “I have now come to the conclusion that the solution (to global
warming) is to make more use of nuclear energy.” His colleagues made him resign.
However as fears about greenhouse gases and global warming grow, and the practical
problems of filling the world's energy needs with non emission sources become more
apparent, today's nuclear environmentalists may come to be seen as prophets.
Roel Hammerschlag, environmentalist and executive director of the Seattle based
Institute for Lifecycle Environmental Assessment suggests that “Coal is the enemy.” He
describes himself as open minded on nuclear power, calling it perhaps "The lesser of two
evils." He said that he believes the potential negatives of nuclear power may be less than
what he sees as the certain catastrophe of global climate change.
However opposition persists from the Sierra Club. Sierra Club executive director
Carl Pope still thinks that: “Nuclear power poses a major security risk and produces a
radioactive waste, which we have no way to store safely over the long term. It also
makes absolutely no sense to waste tax dollars on new power plants when we have not
secured or cleaned up the waste from existing nuclear power plants.” REFERENCES 35 1. H. H. Rogner, "An Assessment of World Hydrocarbon Resources," Annu. Rev.
Energy Envir., 22:217-62, 1997.
2. JoAnne Ford, "Climate Change and Nuclear Power," International Atomic Energy
Agency, IAEA/PI/A72E, 00-02779, 2000.
3. IPCC, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, "Special Report on Emission
Scenarios. A Special Report of Working Group III of the Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change," Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 2000.
4. Jesse Ausubell, "Where is Energy Going?," The Industrial Physicist, pp. 16-19, Feb.
5. W. Hafele, J. P. Holdren, G. Kessler, and G. L. Kulcinski, "Fusion and Fast Breeder
Reactors," D. Faude, M. Helm, W. Weisz, Editors, RR-77-8, International Institute
for Applied Systems Analysis, 1977.
6. Alice Clamp, Ed., "Consolidation Continues," Nuclear Energy Insight, Nuclear
Energy Institute (NEI), December 2000.
7. Editor, "Insatiable Appetites," National Geographic, March 2001. 36 ...
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