Nuclear energy policy


Eight German nuclear power reactors (Biblis A and B, Brunsbuettel, Isar 1, Kruemmel, Neckarwestheim 1, Philippsburg 1 and Unterweser) were permanently shutdown on 6 August 2011, following the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster in Japan.[1]

Nuclear energy policy is a national and international policy concerning some or all aspects of nuclear energy and the nuclear fuel cycle, such as uranium mining, ore concentration, conversion, enrichment for nuclear fuel, generating electricity by nuclear power, storing and reprocessing spent nuclear fuel, and disposal of radioactive waste.

Nuclear energy policies often include the regulation of energy use and standards relating to the nuclear fuel cycle. Other measures include efficiency standards, safety regulations, emission standards, fiscal policies, and legislation on energy trading, transport of nuclear waste and contaminated materials, and their storage. Governments might subsidize nuclear energy and arrange international treaties and trade agreements about the import and export of nuclear technology, electricity, nuclear waste, and uranium.

Since about 2001 the term nuclear renaissance has been used to refer to a possible nuclear power industry revival, but nuclear electricity generation in 2012 was at its lowest level since 1999.[2][3]

Following the March 2011 Fukushima I nuclear accidents, China, Germany, Switzerland, Israel, Malaysia, Thailand, United Kingdom, and the Philippines are reviewing their nuclear power programs. Indonesia and Vietnam still plan to build nuclear power plants.[4][5][6][7] Thirty-one countries operate nuclear power stations, and there are a considerable number of new reactors being built in China, South Korea, India, and Russia.[8] As of June 2011, countries such as Australia, Austria, Denmark, Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Lichtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Israel, Malaysia, and Norway have no nuclear power stations and remain opposed to nuclear power.[9][10]

Since nuclear energy and nuclear weapons technologies are closely related, military aspirations can act as a factor in energy policy decisions. The fear of nuclear proliferation influences some international nuclear energy policies.

The global picture

The number of nuclear power plant constructions started each year, from 1954 to 2013. Note the increase in new constructions from 2007 to 2010, before a decline following the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.

After 1986's Chernobyl disaster, public fear of nuclear power led to a virtual halt in reactor construction, and several countries decided to phase out nuclear power altogether.[11] However, increasing energy demand was believed to require new sources of electric power, and rising fossil fuel prices coupled with concerns about greenhouse gas emissions (see Climate change mitigation) have sparked heightened interest in nuclear power and predictions of a nuclear renaissance.

In 2004, the largest producer of nuclear energy was the United States with 28% of worldwide capacity, followed by France (18%) and Japan (12%).[12] In 2007, 31 countries operated nuclear power plants.[13] In September 2008 the IAEA projected nuclear power to remain at a 12.4% to 14.4% share of the world's electricity production through 2030.[14]

In 2013, almost two years after Fukushima, according to the IAEA there are 390 operating nuclear generating units throughout the world, more than 10% less than before Fukushima, and exactly the same as in Chernobyl-year 1986.[15] Asia is expected to be the primary growth market for nuclear energy in the foreseeable future, despite continued uncertainty in the energy outlooks for Japan, South Korea, and others in the region. As of 2014, 63% of all reactors under construction globally are in Asia.[16]

Policy issues

Nuclear concerns

Nuclear accidents and radioactive waste disposal are major concerns.[17] Other concerns include nuclear proliferation, the high cost of nuclear power plants, and nuclear terrorism.[17]

Energy security

For some countries, nuclear power affords energy independence. In the words of the French, "We have no coal, we have no oil, we have no gas, we have no choice."[18] Japan—similarly lacking in indigenous natural resources for power supply—relied on nuclear power for 1/3 of its energy mix prior to the Fukushima nuclear disaster; since March 2011, Japan has sought to offset the loss of nuclear power with increased reliance on imported liquefied natural gas, which has led to the country's first trade deficits in decades.[19] Therefore, the discussion of a future for nuclear energy is intertwined with a discussion of energy security and the use of energy mix, including renewable energy development.[citation needed]

Nuclear power has been relatively unaffected by embargoes, and uranium is mined in "reliable" countries, including Australia and Canada.[18][20]

Nuclear energy history and trends

Olkiluoto 3 under construction in 2009. It is the first EPR design, but problems with workmanship and supervision have created costly delays which led to an inquiry by the Finnish nuclear regulator STUK.[21] In December 2012, Areva estimated that the full cost of building the reactor will be about €8.5 billion, or almost three times the original delivery price of €3 billion.[22][23][24]

Proponents have long made inflated projections of the expected growth of nuclear power, but major accidents and high costs have kept growth much lower. In 1973 and 1974, the International Atomic Energy Agency predicted a worldwide installed nuclear capacity of 3,600 to 5,000 gigawatts by 2000. The IAEA's 1980 projection was for 740 to 1,075 gigawatts of installed capacity by the year 2000. Even after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, the Nuclear Energy Agency forecasted an installed nuclear capacity of 497 to 646 gigawatts for the year 2000. The actual capacity in 2000 was 356 gigawatts. Moreover, construction costs have often been much higher, and times much longer than projected, failing to meet optimistic projections of “unlimited cheap, clean, and safe electricity.”[25]

Since about 2001 the term nuclear renaissance has been used to refer to a possible nuclear power industry revival, driven by rising fossil fuel prices and new concerns about meeting greenhouse gas emission limits.[3] However, nuclear electricity generation in 2012 was at its lowest level since 1999,[2] and new reactors under construction in Finland and France, which were meant to lead a nuclear renaissance,[26] have been delayed and are running over-budget.[26][27][28] China has 32 new reactors under construction,[29] and there are also a considerable number of new reactors being built in South Korea, India, and Russia. At the same time, at least 100 older and smaller reactors will "most probably be closed over the next 10-15 years".[8] So the expanding nuclear programs in Asia are balanced by retirements of aging plants and nuclear reactor phase-outs.[30]

In March 2011 the nuclear emergencies at Japan's Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant and shutdowns at other nuclear facilities raised questions among some commentators over the future of the renaissance.[31][32][33][34][35] Platts has reported that "the crisis at Japan's Fukushima nuclear plants has prompted leading energy-consuming countries to review the safety of their existing reactors and cast doubt on the speed and scale of planned expansions around the world".[36] In 2011 Siemens exited the nuclear power sector following the Fukushima disaster and subsequent changes to German energy policy, and supported the German government's planned energy transition to renewable energy technologies.[37] China, Germany, Switzerland, Israel, Malaysia, Thailand, United Kingdom, Italy[38] and the Philippines have reviewed their nuclear power programs. Indonesia and Vietnam still plan to build nuclear power plants.[4][5][6][7] Countries such as Australia, Austria, Denmark, Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Portugal, Israel, Malaysia, New Zealand, and Norway remain opposed to nuclear power. Following the Fukushima I nuclear accidents, the International Energy Agency halved its estimate of additional nuclear generating capacity built by 2035.[39]

The World Nuclear Association has reported that “nuclear power generation suffered its biggest ever one-year fall through 2012 as the bulk of the Japanese fleet remained offline for a full calendar year”. Data from the International Atomic Energy Agency showed that nuclear power plants globally produced 2346 TWh of electricity in 2012 – seven per cent less than in 2011. The figures illustrate the effects of a full year of 48 Japanese power reactors producing no power during the year. The permanent closure of eight reactor units in Germany was also a factor. Problems at Crystal River, Fort Calhoun and the two San Onofre units in the USA meant they produced no power for the full year, while in Belgium Doel 3 and Tihange 2 were out of action for six months. Compared to 2010, the nuclear industry produced 11% less electricity in 2012.[2]

Reactions to Fukushima

Following the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Germany has permanently shut down eight of its reactors and pledged to close the rest by 2022.[40] The Italians have voted overwhelmingly to keep their country non-nuclear.[41] Switzerland and Spain have banned the construction of new reactors.[42] Japan’s prime minister has called for a dramatic reduction in Japan’s reliance on nuclear power.[43] Taiwan’s president did the same. Mexico has sidelined construction of 10 reactors in favor of developing natural-gas-fired plants.[44] Belgium is considering phasing out its nuclear plants, perhaps as early as 2015.[42]

China—nuclear power’s largest prospective market—suspended approvals of new reactor construction while conducting a lengthy nuclear-safety review.[35][45] Neighboring India, another potential nuclear boom market, has encountered effective local opposition, growing national wariness about foreign nuclear reactors, and a nuclear liability controversy that threatens to prevent new reactor imports. There have been mass protests against the French-backed 9900 MW Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project in Maharashtra and the 2000 MW Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant in Tamil Nadu. The state government of West Bengal state has also refused permission to a proposed 6000 MW facility near the town of Haripur that intended to host six Russian reactors.[46]

There is little support across the world for building new nuclear reactors, a 2011 poll for the BBC indicates. The global research agency GlobeScan, commissioned by BBC News, polled 23,231 people in 23 countries from July to September 2011, several months after the Fukushima nuclear disaster. In countries with existing nuclear programmes, people are significantly more opposed than they were in 2005, with only the UK and US bucking the trend. Most believe that boosting energy efficiency and renewable energy can meet their needs.[47]

Just 22% agreed that "nuclear power is relatively safe and an important source of electricity, and we should build more nuclear power plants". In contrast, 71% thought their country "could almost entirely replace coal and nuclear energy within 20 years by becoming highly energy-efficient and focusing on generating energy from the Sun and wind". Globally, 39% want to continue using existing reactors without building new ones, while 30% would like to shut everything down now.[47]

Historic net effect on carbon emissions and competition with renewable energy

Eliminating fossil fuels is essential in solving the climate change crisis. Still, there are multiple energy options available to reach this goal. Nuclear power has comparably low life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions as renewable energies such as wind and solar power.[48] Historically, nuclear power has prevented 64 gigatonnes of CO2-equivalent greenhouse-gas emissions between 1971 and 2009.[49] With a significant amount of renewable energy installed in the 21st century, it has been speculated that tensions between nuclear and renewable national energy development strategies might reduce their effectiveness in terms of climate change mitigation.[50] However, newer studies have refuted this idea. Both nuclear and renewable energy have shown equally effective in the prevention of greenhouse-gas emissions.[51][52] An effective climate-change mitigation strategy may include both nuclear and renewable energy sources.[53]

Moreover, nuclear energy has such a low carbon footprint that it could power carbon dioxide capture and transformation,[54] resulting in a carbon-negative process. Specifically, various organizations are working across the globe to create designs for small modular reactors, a type of nuclear fission reactor that is smaller than conventional reactors. Some of these companies include ARC Nuclear[55] in Canada, CNEA in Denmark, Areva TA in France, Toshiba and JAERI in Japan, OKB Gidropress in Russia, and OPEN100[56] and X-energy[57] in the United States.

Policies by territory

Following the March 2011 Fukushima I nuclear accidents, China, Germany, Switzerland, Israel, Malaysia, Thailand, United Kingdom, and the Philippines are reviewing their nuclear power programs. Indonesia and Vietnam still plan to build nuclear power plants.[4][5][6][7] Countries such as Australia, Austria, Denmark, Greece, Ireland, Luxembourg, Portugal, New Zealand, and Norway remain opposed to nuclear power.[58]

See also


  1. ^ IAEA (2011 Highlights). "Power Reactor Information System". {{cite web}}: Check date values in: |date= (help)
  2. ^ a b c WNA (20 June 2013). "Nuclear power down in 2012". World Nuclear News.
  3. ^ a b The Nuclear Renaissance (by the World Nuclear Association)
  4. ^ a b c Jo Chandler (March 19, 2011). "Is this the end of the nuclear revival?". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  5. ^ a b c Aubrey Belford (March 17, 2011). "Indonesia to Continue Plans for Nuclear Power". New York Times.
  6. ^ a b c Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu: Japan situation has "caused me to reconsider" nuclear power Piers Morgan on CNN, published 2011-03-17, accessed 2011-03-17
  7. ^ a b c Israeli PM cancels plan to build nuclear plant, published 2011-03-18, accessed 2011-03-17
  8. ^ a b Michael Dittmar. Taking stock of nuclear renaissance that never was Sydney Morning Herald, August 18, 2010.
  9. ^ "Nuclear power: When the steam clears". The Economist. March 24, 2011.
  10. ^ Duroyan Fertl (June 5, 2011). "Germany: Nuclear power to be phased out by 2022". Green Left.
  11. ^ Research and Markets: International Perspectives on Energy Policy and the Role of Nuclear Power Reuters, May 6, 2009.
  12. ^ "Survey of energy resources" (PDF). World Energy Council. 2004. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-09-25. Retrieved 2007-07-13. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  13. ^ Mycle Schneider, Steve Thomas, Antony Froggatt, Doug Koplow (August 2009). The World Nuclear Industry Status Report Archived 2008-06-25 at the Wayback Machine, German Federal Ministry of Environment, Nature Conservation and Reactor Safety, p. 6.
  14. ^ "Energy, Electricity and Nuclear Power Estimates for the Period up to 2030" (PDF). International Atomic Energy Agency. September 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-08. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  15. ^ Historic Move: IAEA Shifts 47 Japanese Reactors Into “Long-Term Shutdown” Category, World Nuclear Industry Status Report, 16-1-2013
  16. ^ Multilateral Cooperation in Asia's Nuclear Sector, 2014 Pacific Energy Summit Working Paper, 8-6-14
  17. ^ a b Brian Martin. Opposing nuclear power: past and present, Social Alternatives, Vol. 26, No. 2, Second Quarter 2007, pp. 43-47.
  18. ^ a b "Nuclear renaissance faces realities". Platts. (subscription required). Retrieved 2007-07-13.
  19. ^ How Can Japan Compete in a Changing Global Market?, Clara Gillispie, The National Bureau of Asian Research, July 201
  20. ^ L. Meeus; K. Purchala; R. Belmans. "Is it reliable to depend on import?" (PDF). Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Departement of Electrical Engineering of the Faculty of Engineering. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-05-20. Retrieved 2007-07-13. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  21. ^ "Olkiluoto pipe welding 'deficient', says regulator". World Nuclear News. 16 October 2009. Retrieved 8 June 2010.
  22. ^ Kinnunen, Terhi (2010-07-01). "Finnish parliament agrees plans for two reactors". Reuters. Retrieved 2010-07-02.
  23. ^ "Olkiluoto 3 delayed beyond 2014". World Nuclear News. 17 July 2012. Retrieved 24 July 2012.
  24. ^ "Finland's Olkiluoto 3 nuclear plant delayed again". BBC. 16 July 2012. Retrieved 10 August 2012.
  25. ^ Mycle Schneider and Antony Froggatt (September/October 2012 vol. 68 no. 5). "2011-2012 world nuclear industry status report". Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. 68 (5): 8–22. doi:10.1177/0096340212459126. {{cite journal}}: Check date values in: |date= (help)
  26. ^ a b James Kanter. Is the Nuclear Renaissance Fizzling? Green, 29 May 2009.
  27. ^ James Kanter. In Finland, Nuclear Renaissance Runs Into Trouble New York Times, May 28, 2009.
  28. ^ Rob Broomby. Nuclear dawn delayed in Finland BBC News, 8 July 2009.
  29. ^ Nuclear Power in China
  30. ^ Mark Diesendorf (2013). "Book review: Contesting the future of nuclear power" (PDF). Energy Policy.
  31. ^ Nuclear Renaissance Threatened as Japan’s Reactor Struggles Bloomberg, published March 2011, accessed 2011-03-14
  32. ^ Analysis: Nuclear renaissance could fizzle after Japan quake Reuters, published 2011-03-14, accessed 2011-03-14
  33. ^ Japan nuclear woes cast shadow over U.S. energy policy Reuters, published 2011-03-13, accessed 2011-03-14
  34. ^ Nuclear winter? Quake casts new shadow on reactors MarketWatch, published 2011-03-14, accessed 2011-03-14
  35. ^ a b Will China's nuclear nerves fuel a boom in green energy? Channel 4, published 2011-03-17, accessed 2011-03-17
  36. ^ "NEWS ANALYSIS: Japan crisis puts global nuclear expansion in doubt". Platts. 21 March 2011.
  37. ^ "Siemens to quit nuclear industry". BBC News. September 18, 2011.
  38. ^ "Italy announces nuclear moratorium". World Nuclear News. 24 March 2011. Retrieved 23 May 2011.
  39. ^ "Gauging the pressure". The Economist. 28 April 2011. Retrieved 3 May 2011.
  40. ^ Annika Breidthardt (May 30, 2011). "German government wants nuclear exit by 2022 at latest". Reuters.
  41. ^ "Italy Nuclear Referendum Results". June 13, 2011. Archived from the original on March 25, 2012.
  42. ^ a b Henry Sokolski (November 28, 2011). "Nuclear Power Goes Rogue". Newsweek. Archived from the original on December 18, 2012. Retrieved November 29, 2011.
  43. ^ Tsuyoshi Inajima & Yuji Okada (October 28, 2011). "Nuclear Promotion Dropped in Japan Energy Policy After Fukushima". Bloomberg.
  44. ^ Carlos Manuel Rodriguez (November 4, 2011). "Mexico Scraps Plans to Build 10 Nuclear Power Plants in Favor of Using Gas". Bloomberg Businessweek.
  45. ^ the CNN Wire Staff. "China freezes nuclear plant approvals -". Retrieved 2011-03-16.
  46. ^ Siddharth Srivastava (27 October 2011). "India's Rising Nuclear Safety Concerns". Asia Sentinel. Archived from the original on 4 October 2013. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
  47. ^ a b Richard Black (25 November 2011). "Nuclear power 'gets little public support worldwide'". BBC News.
  48. ^ "IPCC Working Group III – Mitigation of Climate Change, Annex III: Technology - specific cost and performance parameters - Table A.III.2 (Emissions of selected electricity supply technologies (gCO 2eq/kWh))" (PDF). IPCC. 2014. p. 1335. Retrieved 14 December 2018.
  49. ^ Kharecha, Pushker A.; Hansen, James E. (2013). "Prevented Mortality and Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Historical and Projected Nuclear Power". Environmental Science & Technology. 47 (9): 4889–95. Bibcode:2013EnST...47.4889K. doi:10.1021/es3051197. PMID 23495839.
  50. ^ Sovacool, Benjamin K.; Schmid, Patrick; Stirling, Andy; Walter, Goetz; MacKerron, Gordon (5 October 2020). "Differences in carbon emissions reduction between countries pursuing renewable electricity versus nuclear power". Nature Energy.
  51. ^ Fell, Harrison; Gilbert, Alexander; Jenkins, Jesse; Mildenberger, Matto (2021-01-08). "Reply to 'Differences in Carbon Emissions Reduction between Countries Pursuing Renewable Electricity Versus Nuclear Power,' by Sovacool Et Al. (2020)". SSRN. Elsevier. doi:10.2139/ssrn.3762762.
  52. ^ Wagner, Friedrich (2021-05-20). "CO2 emissions of nuclear power and renewable energies: a statistical analysis of European and global data". The European Physical Journal Plus. 136. doi:10.1140/epjp/s13360-021-01508-7.
  53. ^ IPCC (2013-03-31). "IPCC Fifth Assessment Report - WG3 Summary for Policymakers" (PDF).
  54. ^ Kugelmass, Bret. "Want to stop climate change? Embrace the nuclear option". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2021-01-19.
  55. ^ "Carbon Free Energy | ARC Clean Energy". Retrieved 2021-01-19.
  56. ^ "OPEN100 | Nuclear Energy". Open100. Retrieved 2021-01-19.
  57. ^ "X-energy | Advanced Nuclear Reactors (SMR) & TRISO Fuel". X-energy. Retrieved 2021-01-19.
  58. ^ "Nuclear power: When the steam clears". The Economist. March 24, 2011.

Further reading

External links

  • NEI Public Policy Information
  • Robert J. Duffy. Nuclear Politics in America: A History and Theory of Government Regulation (Studies in Government and Public Policy). Paperback. 1997. ISBN 0-7006-0853-2.
  • Carlton Stoiber, Alec Baer, Norbert Pelzer, Wolfram Tonhauser, Handbook on Nuclear Law, IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), 2003.
  • Annotated bibliography for nuclear power from the Alsos Digital Library for Nuclear Issues
  • Fairewinds Energy Education
  • Schneider, Mycle, Steve Thomas, Antony Froggatt, Doug Koplow (2016). The World Nuclear Industry Status Report: World Nuclear Industry Status as of 1 January 2016.