This group brings together the best thinkers on energy and climate. Join us for smart, insightful posts and conversations about where the energy industry is and where it is going.


WW Nuclear Progress/Decline in 2020

image credit: Radio Free Europe
Joe Deely's picture
Partner, Deely Group

Involved with high-tech for last 30 years. Interested in energy.

  • Member since 2018
  • 1,965 items added with 246,135 views
  • Jan 19, 2021

Long lead times for nuclear projects mean that projects which started construction in 2020 will be completed in the second half of the decade. Based on this, we have a good idea of what WW nuclear capacity will be in the late 2020s and can infer any growth in generation.

Here is information on new nuclear construction starts, as well as new connections to grid and shutdowns in 2020 from International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) PRIS database.

As you can see, WW there were just three new reactor construction starts in 2020. Not good. In fact, the number of construction starts is only half the number of permanent shutdowns. What can we infer about future nuclear generation WW from this data?  With new construction starts falling behind shutdown this means that we cannot expect much if any growth in generation from nuclear WW over the coming decade.

Nuclear generation peaked WW in 2006 at 2660 TWh- see below. Basically there has been no growth since then. Early indications for 2020 show declines in generation for the US, France, UK and Sweden which indicate that WW nuclear generation will almost certainly decline for the year. Hopefully at some point in this decade we will get past this earlier peak. However, it's not gonna happen in 2020.  

It looks like for the 2020s the world is gonna have to depend on renewables to increase the amount of zero carbon generation WW.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Jan 19, 2021

Do you think the lack of new builds will increase the likelihood that existing reactors get extended licenses to keep providing power to the grid? 

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Jan 23, 2021

It's already happening, Matt, and uprates too. Even with nuclear plant closures, in 2019 U.S. nuclear plants generated 809 trillion watthours of clean electricity - a record.

And it's not just uprates. Two days ago, The Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued an Environmental Assessment (EA) and Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) extending the completion dates for the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Bellefonte plant reactor construction permits. After decades of spurious lawsuits, new nuclear is coming to Alabama - whether anti-nuclear activists like it, or not. 

It looks like sometime during the 2020s those fearful activists are gonna hafta accept that zero-carbon nuclear energy is here to stay.

Jim Stack's picture
Jim Stack on Jan 22, 2021

This is not progress. Uranium is a limited resource. 90% comes from Russia and adding new Reactors just makes it run out faster and take even more subsidies. Nuclear is already the biggest Subsidy and most expensive power ever made.

None of the tons of deadly waste stored at each reactor has been processed and stored safely.  I should know we live near the triple reactor aging Nuclear plant in Phoenix Arizona. It uses 60 million gallon of water a day that could be used for people and farming. 

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Jan 22, 2021

I thought uranium had a pretty long supply (at least compared to fossil fuels), but I'm surprised that it's more limited than I thought. From the World Nuclear Association

The world's present measured resources of uranium (6.1 Mt) in the cost category less than three times present spot prices and used only in conventional reactors, are enough to last for about 90 years. This represents a higher level of assured resources than is normal for most minerals. Further exploration and higher prices will certainly, on the basis of present geological knowledge, yield further resources as present ones are used up.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Jan 23, 2021

"Uranium is a limited resource. 90% comes from Russia..."

Jim, please stop posting this misinformation. As of 2019, U.S. uranium came from these countries:

We have many sources from around the world, and a virtually unlimited supply.

If you have more accurate information from another source, I'd love to see it. But your tired anti-nuclear talking points don't cut it anymore.

Joe Deely's picture
Thank Joe for the Post!
Energy Central contributors share their experience and insights for the benefit of other Members (like you). Please show them your appreciation by leaving a comment, 'liking' this post, or following this Member.
More posts from this member

Get Published - Build a Following

The Energy Central Power Industry Network is based on one core idea - power industry professionals helping each other and advancing the industry by sharing and learning from each other.

If you have an experience or insight to share or have learned something from a conference or seminar, your peers and colleagues on Energy Central want to hear about it. It's also easy to share a link to an article you've liked or an industry resource that you think would be helpful.

                 Learn more about posting on Energy Central »