World Nuclear Performance Report 2016
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At the start of 2015 there were 436 operable reactors around the world and by year-end there were 439. This increase in reactor numbers came despite the retirement of seven units during the year. A larger number of nuclear power units are under construction than at any other time in the last 25 years, and with another ten new reactors coming online – also a 25-year record for the industry – 2015 demonstrated improving new build performance all round. The existing global fleet generated roughly 10% of the world’s electricity, making up around one-third of the world’s low-carbon electricity supply.
Nevertheless, the situation facing the nuclear industry globally is challenging. Established fleets in several European countries face public acceptance issues and a negative policy environment; there are tough economic conditions for operators not only in some deregulated energy markets such as in parts of the USA, but also in European countries where electricity prices have been depressed by a growing share of renewable technologies subsidised to produce regardless of whether their electricity is needed or not. The future of the Japanese fleet is crystallising: the first reactors restarted in 2015 under a new safety regime, while the country’s operators marked six of their units as permanently closed, forgoing their potential restart. China continues to grow as a nuclear power hub, taking advantage of its stable and long-sighted policy regime as well as economies of scale. Substantial progress has also been made towards the commercialisation of small and advanced reactor designs.
The rate of new build is, however, insufficient if the world is to meet the targets for reducing the impacts of global warming agreed at the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) on climate change, which took place in Paris last year. The World Nuclear Association’s vision for the future global electricity system consists of a diverse mix of low-carbon technologies – where renewables, nuclear and a greatly reduced level of fossil fuels (preferably with carbon capture and storage) work together in harmony to ensure a rel iable, affordable and clean energy supply. This mix must find the optimal balance between the need for human development and the protection of th e natural environment. To achieve this, the role of nuclear energy must be expanded.Our Harmony vision sets a target for 1000 GWe of new nuclear capacity to be added by 2050, so that nuclear would supply about 25% of global electricity.
We are publishing this World Nuclear Performance Report 2016 to provide an up-to-date picture of the civil nuclear power sector today and how it is performing across several key metrics. This report forms the first in a series which will be updated annually and which will track progress towards the Harmony targets.
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