INTERNATIONAL POLICIES

A review of the place of nuclear power in world energy generation compared with other energy sources has been carried out by Birol (2000). The work is in the context of the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook (World Energy Outlook, 1998). This paper projects that nuclear energy generation worldwide will be broadly at the same level in 2020 as at present (Figure 2.2) and summarises differences in national policies. It is clear that there is marked difference of prospect across the various world sectors.

Nuclear electricity production is increasing in China, and in other developing countries and particularly in Asia (Figure 2.3). The most notable examples are Japan, Korea and Taiwan. Other countries planning expansion include India and Pakistan (Fisk, 1999). The main reason for the increased production is the building of new plants and indeed the share of nuclear electricity in these countries is increasing. Other Asian countries are also considering building. These include Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam.

In North America, the situation is less certain. There could be a significant decline in nuclear generation since a number of the US plants are older reactors. However, there are increasing drives to extend the life of older plants. In recent years, there have been generally positive statements on the prospect of building new plants in the US in the future.

The situation is similar in Europe where no new plants have been ordered and relatively few plants are under construction. There is also a marked variation in national policies from country to country.

The reasons for the overall decline in Europe and North America also vary from country to country. In most countries, the reasons are partly economic and partly political. In the UK for example, there are no restrictions in principle on the building of new plant (subject to regulatory approval); the issues are primarily economic. A similar position exists in Finland. Elsewhere in the EU, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, Spain and Sweden

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□ Present

□ Future

 

Europe Europe America

 

Figure 2.3. Nuclear generating capacity in 2010. Source: Chamberlain (1997).

 

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continue to operate nuclear plant, but have a moratorium on the building of new plant. In Italy, all nuclear plants have been shutdown since 1990 and there was an immediate moratorium on building. Other EU countries, e. g. Denmark, Greece, Ireland and Norway have never built nuclear power reactors and none are foreseen in the future.

In Russia, Ukraine and the Central European Countries, there is a positive attitude to nuclear power production. A large number of reactors are in operation and dependence on nuclear power is necessary to provide these countries’ energy requirements in the short to medium term. However, some of the older designed reactors built during the Soviet era are generally recognised as having safety limitations. There are political forces that these should be closed down. Many such plants have already ceased operation. New electricity producing plants are being required to fill gaps in supply and new nuclear power plants are filling that demand.

Nuclear power plants are also in operation in South America (e. g. Argentina and Brazil) and in South Africa. There is currently a global initiative by ESKOM to design a new high — temperature reactor based on an earlier pebble bed design. This reactor type is discussed later in the book. In Australia, there are no plants currently in operation and there are restrictions in place on future building.

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