Nuclear power to grow fastest in more than 20 years
A new report by the World Nuclear Association estimates global nuclear power generation capacity should grow by more than 45% over the next 20 years and a new pipeline of uranium mines will be needed after 2025.
The 40-year old association’s bi-annual 2015 Nuclear Fuel report released on Thursday forecasts global nuclear capacity will grow to 552 gigawatts equivalent (GWe) by 2035 from 379 GWe or roughly 11% of world electricity supply at the moment.
The report states that until the Fukushima accident in Japan, the outlook for nuclear power around the world was improving, but despite the March 2011 disaster, “many countries are putting more emphasis on satisfying environmental and security of supply objectives in their energy strategies, which should favour increased nuclear power.”
The prospects for new reactor build continue to be strong in China, India and Korea as well as in a number of countries in the EU and the Middle East, but electricity demand growth in countries where nuclear power is well-established continues to be slow.
“Nuclear electricity output is set to increase at a faster rate over the next five years than we have seen for more than two decades,” said Agneta Rising, director general of the association which started life in 1975 as the Uranium Institute.
To feed the rise in global capacity, the world will likely need 103,000 tonnes of elemental uranium or tU (equal to roughly 267m pounds of U3O8) by 2035, up from 56,250 tU (146m pounds U3O8) in 2014, according to the report.
Secondary supplies of uranium are gradually playing a diminishing role in the world market according to the report, but will continue to be an important source of supply as underfeeding of enrichment plants is expected to add significant quantities of uranium to the market in the period to 2025.
World known resources of uranium are more than adequate to satisfy reactor requirements to well beyond 2035, but depressed uranium prices have curtailed exploration activities and the opening of new mines and some mines have stopped production.
The report concludes that rapid uranium demand growth in a number of countries, particularly China, coupled with a limited contribution of secondary supplies will result in the need for additional mined uranium.
Nevertheless, the market should still be adequately supplied to 2025 according to the report but only if all planned mines and those under development start up as forecast. After 2025 however a new supply pipeline will have to be developed to meet demand.
Image of cooling tower climbing wall at Wunderland Kalkar – a never-commisioned nuclear power plant turned into amusement park in Germany – by Koetjuh