With the average age of European Union (EU) nuclear
plants now at around 30 years, bringing enough new capacity online
to match that lost through the closure of old nuclear plants will
present a major challenge, writes Stephen Tarlton.
Currently, 131 nuclear power reactors with a combined capacity
of around 122 GWe operate in 14 EU member states. This accounts for
over one-quarter of the electricity generated across all of the
EU's 28 member states. Half of the EU's nuclear electricity is
produced in only one country, namely France.
But with the French government planning to cap nuclear capacity
at its current level of around 63 GWe, along with the
politically-motivated decisions by two member states (Germany and
Belgium) to exit nuclear power over the next decade, a decline in
EU capacity up to around 2030 is all but inevitable.
In order to reverse this expected short-term decline, the new
generation of nuclear reactor designs needs to be firmly
established in the EU. Today, nuclear plant construction is
underway in only three EU member states - Finland, France and
Slovakia (although the reactors under construction in Slovakia are
Russian VVER-440 units, a design that is unlikely to be built
again). Beyond these units, the countries that are most likely to
have additional new nuclear units in operation by 2030 are Finland,
Hungary, Lithuania and the United Kingdom. Though less likely,
further new units by 2030 might also be seen in Bulgaria, Czech
Republic, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and
According to a new report titled New Nuclear in Europe - 2030
Outlook by the World Nuclear Association (WNA), the outcome of the
nuclear projects in these 13 countries - but especially the two
EPRs currently under construction in Finland and France, along with
the planned new reactors in Finland, Hungary, Lithuania and the
United Kingdom - will determine whether the expected short-term
decline in the EU's nuclear industry will be reversed.
Read more on WNN Analysis