Governments must support long-term operation of nuclear plants to secure cost-effective climate benefits

World Nuclear Association releases its new technical position paper on The Enduring Value of Nuclear Energy Assets

For immediate release 30 June

More governments must introduce policies to support the long-term operation (LTO) of nuclear plants to maximise the environmental, employment and economic benefits they bring.

This is the conclusion of a new technical position paper, The Enduring Value of Nuclear Energy Assets, issued by World Nuclear Association’s Long-term Operation Task Force.

Speaking at the paper’s launch, World Nuclear Association Director General, Agneta Rising said,

 “Ensuring today’s nuclear plants achieve long-term operation is an urgent policy challenge. If government are serious about climate change and energy resilience they should not allow such plants to retire.”

The paper calls on governments to:

  • Invest in basic education and higher-level academic institutions and training programmes to ensure that there is a skilled pool of workers.
  • Develop an industrial strategy so that the supply chain is in place.
  • Reform markets so that they value the non-power benefits of nuclear alongside other clean energy technologies.
  • Ensure that, in those countries where public participation for LTO is a requirement, the process is transparent and that stakeholders are provided with fact-based information not only on safety and environment risks but also on socio-economic benefits.

Long-term operation of nuclear power plants is, in most energy markets, the lowest-cost option for generating electricity on a levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) basis, and is expected to stay that way for decades to come.

There is no fixed technical limit to the lifespan for most reactors technologies. LTO of nuclear plants has been successfully demonstrated globally and is now standard practice, with planned operating lifetimes of 60 to 80 years now commonplace.

Most of the world’s fleet is technically capable of LTO. Where nuclear plants have had to close in recent years, this has normally been to do with political factors, or else market failure, but not because of technical limitations of the reactor.

Another advantage of LTO is that it acts as a bridge to new build, preserving core competencies within the industry, helping to retain highly-skilled jobs and support local communities.

Download the technical position paper