Why nuclear power will never supply the world's energy needs May 11, by Lisa Zyga, Phys. As Abbott notes in his study, global power consumption today is about 15 terawatts TW.
The French get more than three-quarters of their electricity from nuclear power, the largest share of any country in the world. According to the Nuclear Energy Agency of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, France consumed terawatt-hours of electricity, generated TWh and exported 47 TWh inthe most recent data available said.
This generation mix has averted 31 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. The country doubled down on its nuclear bet after the oil crisis inconvinced of the acute need for energy security built on a domestic source.
The decision was decreed from high levels in government and civil service. The French experimented with their own designs but settled on an American reactor and rapidly built them throughout the country, which in turn provided some of the cheapest electricity in the European Union while maintaining an admirable safety record.
These factors meant France could build reactors faster and operate them cheaper than just about anyone. More than 76 percent of French reactors were built in less than seven years, while less than 35 percent of American reactors were built that fast.
On the other end of the supply chain, the French decided to recycle their nuclear waste, drastically cutting down on disposal requirements.
For a time, the strategy paid off for France, helping make it the second largest economy in the European Union, behind Germany. Once enough reactors were built to meet demand, the construction sector went into stasis, with decades elapsing between builds and upgrades.
In addition, nuclear plants, by their nature, are big bets and take years to build. Laponche explained that the French nuclear industry anticipated 1, TWh of demand, but domestic needs have yet to top TWh, leaving an oversupply.
With the economic downturn and increasing energy efficiency, French electricity demand has remained level or declined in some instances.
New reactors also are struggling. All four are behind schedule, and the French and Finnish reactors have seen their costs more than double, suffering from quality control and management problems. He observed that there are ways to extend the lives of existing reactors, but upgrades get progressively more expensive, and certain components, like reactor pressure vessels, cannot be replaced, so renewed operating licenses are only prolonging the inevitable.
No country with nuclear power has a viable underground repository for waste, and proposed sites in France face public opposition, despite more widespread support for nuclear power.
On the other hand, France is the second largest renewable energy producer and consumer in Europe.
Will fossil fuels fill the gap? All the while, low prices for fossil fuels like oil and coal are undermining incentives for clean energy deployment. France is one of the few precedents for such action. With the world converging in Paris later this year to hammer out a climate agreement, nuclear energy proponents like China and skeptics like Germany are keeping a close eye on France to see whether the French experiment will vindicate their approaches to energy.Hinkley Point C will be the first new nuclear power station built in the UK since and the government expects it to generate around 7 per cent of the UK's electricity requirements from the mid.
Towards a Nuclear National Policy Statement: Consultation on the Strategic Siting Assessment Process and Siting Criteria for New Nuclear Power Stations in the UK, Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform (July ) Nuclear Power Plant Construction Costs 3 Georgia Power also has estimated that the cost of its 45% share of the two proposed Vogtle nuclear plants would be $ billion which is about the same as Progress Energy’s.
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The UK plans to build several new nuclear reactors - of three different types, oddly, including a Franco-German design that has gone radically over-budget elsewhere.
That's a recipe for high costs. Much is made of nuclear power being essential for tacking climate change because it is CO2 free, but even at the most optimistic build rate, 10 new reactors by , the UK’s carbon emissions would be cut by just four per cent.