The Era of Nuclear Decommissioning (END) taking over from nuclear construction
Terminal decline? Fukushima anniversary marks nuclear industry’s deepening crisis, Ecologist, Jim Green / Nuclear Monitor 10th March 2017 “……….The ageing of the global reactor fleet isn’t yet a crisis for the industry, but it is heading that way.
The assessment by the ‘Environmental Progress’ lobby group that 151 GW of worldwide nuclear power capacity could be shut down by 2030 is consistent with figures from the World Nuclear Association (132 reactor shut-downs by 2035), the International Energy Agency (almost 200 shut-downs between 2014 and 2040) and Nuclear Energy Insider (up to 200 shut-downs in the next two decades). It looks increasingly unlikely that new reactors will match shut-downs.
Perhaps the best characterisation of the global nuclear industry is that a new era is approaching – the Era of Nuclear Decommissioning (END). Nuclear power’s END will entail:
- a slow decline in the number of operating reactors (unless growth in China can match the decline elsewhere);
- an increasingly unreliable and accident-prone reactor fleet as ageing sets in;
- countless battles over lifespan extensions for ageing reactors;
- an internationalisation of anti-nuclear opposition as neighbouring countries object to the continued operation of ageing reactors (international opposition to Belgium’s reactors is a case in point);
- a broadening of anti-nuclear opposition as citizens are increasingly supported by local, regional and national governments opposed to reactors in neighbouring countries (again Belgium is a case in point, as is Lithuanian opposition to reactors under construction in Belarus);
- many battles over the nature and timing of decommissioning operations;
- many battles over taxpayer bailouts for companies and utilities that haven’t set aside adequate funding for decommissioning;
- more battles over proposals to impose nuclear waste repositories on unwilling or divided communities; and
- battles over taxpayer bailouts for companies and utilities that haven’t set aside adequate funding for nuclear waste disposal.
As discussed in a previous article in The Ecologist, nuclear power is likely to enjoy a small, short-lived upswing in the next couple of years as reactors ordered in the few years before the Fukushima disaster come online. Beyond that, the Era of Nuclear Decommissioning sets in, characterised by escalating battles – and escalating sticker-shock – over lifespan extensions, decommissioning and nuclear waste management.
In those circumstances, it will become even more difficult than it currently is for the industry to pursue new reactor projects. A positive feedback loop could take hold and then the industry will be well and truly in crisis………http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2988749/terminal_decline_fukushima_anniversary_marks_nuclear_industrys_deepening_crisis.html
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