World Nuclear Performance Report

SUBHEAD: Nuclear industry flacks continue upbeat reports despite continuation of Fukushima Daiichi catastrophe .

A larger number of nuclear plants are under construction than at any other time in the last 25 years.

By Agneta Rising on 21 June 2016 for World Nuclear Association -

Image above: Wreckage of Units #2 nd #3 at Fukushina Daiichi Power Plant in April 2011 after units melted down and exploded. From (

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 subsidized to produce regardless of whether their electricity is needed or not.

The future of the Japanese fleet is crystallizing: the first reactors restarted in 2015 under anew 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 commercialization 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 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 reliable, affordable and clean energy supply.

This mix must find the optimal balance between the need for human development and the protection of the 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.

Today, World Nuclear Association launches its report providing key metrics on nuclear power plant performance and reviewing recent developments in the global nuclear industry.

Key findings include:
  • More nuclear reactors are under construction and more reactors came on line last year than at any time in the last 25 years.

  •  Nuclear reactor performance has improved steadily over the last 35 years. Importantly, reactor performance is not fundamentally affected by reactor age; older plants operate as well as younger plants.

  • Construction times for new reactors have improved over the last 15 years, with reactors coming on line in 2015 having an average construction time of around six years.
Speaking at the launch of the report Agneta Rising said, “This report shows that, despite challenging market conditions in some regions, existing nuclear plant performance is strong and the pace of new build is accelerating.”

Recent years have been some of the most challenging for the global nuclear power plant fleet, but major new build programs, new technology developments, reactor restarts in Japan and strengthening public support mean prospects for the years ahead are brighter.

Even though new build levels are at a 25 year high, the rate of new grid connections will have to increase significantly to support global economic growth, alleviate energy poverty and provide enough clean energy to meet agreed climate change targets. The World Nuclear Association considers that there should be 1000 GWe of new nuclear build by 2050, with nuclear generation supplying 25% of global electricity demand.

The World Nuclear Performance Report 2016 is available as a pdf download from the World Nuclear Association website here (

Key graphics from the report are also available from the World Nuclear Association website – click here (

• The World Nuclear Association is the industry organization that represents the global nuclear industry. Its mission is to promote a wider understanding of nuclear energy among key international influencers by producing authoritative information, developing common industry positions, and contributing to the energy debate, as well as to pave the way for expanding nuclear business.


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