Friday, May 21, 2010

Around Europe and Asia

pt10_art_olympics Marketwatch takes a look at the resurgence of nuclear energy in Europe and elsewhere. Here’s the gist of it:

Overall, the NEA, a division of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, has forecast the number of reactors worldwide growing to between 600 and 1,400 by 2050, from 430 today. That represents necessary investment of between $680 billion and $3.9 trillion, at roughly $4 billion per reactor.

That’s a lot of economic activity. When one talks about the cost of building an energy plant, it’s easy to forget how many people and how many allied industries benefit from the project.

The article has little in it you haven’t seen before, though we like writer Aude Lagorce’s taste for tidbits:

Several European countries are currently building reactors, including Hungary, Finland and Poland. Others are proposing legislation to extend the lifespan of current reactors (Germany) or selecting sites for new reactors (U.K.).

Do read and email it to your nuclear reluctant friends. It’s a great primer.

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Marketwatch seems to be on a roll, as Myra Saefong takes a similar look at Asia and finds – much the same result.

Exploding populations and rapid industrial growth combined with competition for dwindling oil and gas supplies have put energy at the top of government agendas in the region. And while countries are pushing hard to maximize their oil, gas and coal supplies, regional leaders understand that nuclear is likely to be an essential part of the mix when it comes to meeting their future energy needs.

Yes, quite likely indeed. Interestingly, Asian nuclear advocates see their European and American counterparts as sorely lagging.

The rapid expansion in Asia stands in contrast to slower growth in Europe and the U.S. Viewed from Asia, the Western countries "appear to underestimate the importance of this sector and have been following a policy of disengagement in, or even outright phasing out of nuclear energy," he [Martin Hennecke, an associate director at Tyche Group Ltd. in Hong Kong] said.

We don’t think Hennecke is right, but we’ll give it to him if he keeps saying things like this:

"The Asian nuclear-power industry is on a very rapid expansionary course and ... will develop into a hugely significant market over the next decades -- most likely of an importance far beyond the much less efficient, more expensive yet much more hyped other alternative energies of solar, wind, ethanol or biomass."

It may be a bit like a pinwheel of optimism, but we encourage Hennecke to keep it up.

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On the other hand, maybe Hennecke has some viable evidence on his side. We found this article by longtime Nuclear Notes friend Rod Adams about China’s nuclear ambitions very interesting in this regard:

Just a few years ago, the goal in China was to increase nuclear plant capacity from about 9 GWe to 40 GWe by 2020. The current plan will achieve that goal within the next five years and could hit a number closer to 80-120 GWe by 2020. The reactor construction and manufacturing enterprise will not suddenly stop at that level. As the construction continues, China could be operating 300-400 GWe of nuclear plant capacity by 2030. If history is any guide, that capacity should be operating at a capacity factor of 75-90%, displacing a tremendous quantity of fossil fuel consumption.

We’re not sure history is any guide here, but if China genuinely brings this to pass, the choking pollution found there during the 2008 Summer Olympics will become a thing of the past and worries about China and its carbon emissions will likewise fade away. Now that’s a pinwheel of optimism we’re not willing to set atwirl just yet, but dreaming big if one must dream should never be discouraged.

Building an Olympic stadium in a thick haze of smog.

3 comments:

BGiardini said...

Can someone give me a timeline on how far we are along in nuclear power adn where it is heading in the future?

Anonymous said...

"Several European countries are currently building reactors, including Hungary, Finland and Poland." Huh? Hungary and Poland are still in exploratory stages, like the Czech Republic. Building is taking place in Finland and France. Two equals several?

--E. Michael Blake

David Bradish said...

Can someone give me a timeline on how far we are along in nuclear power adn where it is heading in the future?

The Energy Information Administration's International Energy Outlook just released today shows almost a doubling in world nuclear generation over the next 25 years. Here's the nuclear section:

Electricity generation from nuclear power increases from about 2.6 trillion kilowatthours in 2007 to a projected 3.6 trillion kilowatthours in 2020 and then to 4.5 trillion kilowatthours in 2035. Higher future prices for fossil fuels make nuclear power economically competitive with generation from coal, natural gas, and liquid fuels, despite the relatively high capital costs of nuclear power plants. Moreover, higher capacity utilization rates have been reported for many existing nuclear facilities, and the projection anticipates that most of the older nuclear power plants in the OECD countries and non-OECD Eurasia will be granted extensions to their operating lives.

Around the world, nuclear generation is attracting new interest as countries seek to increase the diversity of their energy supplies, improve energy security, and provide a low-carbon alternative to fossil fuels. Still, there is considerable uncertainty associated with nuclear power projections. Issues that could slow the expansion of nuclear power in the future include plant safety, radioactive waste disposal, rising construction costs and investment risk, and nuclear material proliferation concerns. Those issues continue to raise public concern in many countries and may hinder the development of new nuclear power reactors. Nevertheless, the IEO2010 Reference case incorporates improved prospects for world nuclear power. The projection for nuclear electricity generation in 2030 is 9 percent higher than the projection published in last year’s IEO.

On a regional basis, the Reference case projects the strongest growth in nuclear power for the countries of non-OECD Asia, where nuclear power generation is projected to grow at an average rate of 7.7 percent per year from 2007 to 2035, including projected increases averaging 8.4 percent per year in China and 9.5 percent per year in India. Outside Asia, the largest projected increase in installed nuclear capacity is in Central and South America, with increases in nuclear power generation averaging 4.3 percent per year. Prospects for nuclear generation in OECD Europe have undergone a significant revision from last year’s outlook, because a number of countries in the region are reversing policies that require the retirement of nuclear power plants and moratoria on new construction. In the IEO2010 Reference case, nuclear generation in OECD Europe increases on average by 0.8 percent per year, as compared with the small decline projected in IEO2009.