You are here

Nuclear News

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

World Nuclear Association scales back projections
A new World Nuclear Association (WNA) report, 'The Global Nuclear Fuel Market: Supply and Demand 2013-2030', revises and reduces the Association's pre-Fukushima projections of nuclear power growth. Compared to current installed capacity of 334 GWe, the WNA projections range from a lower scenario of no net growth, a reference scenario of 72% growth (574 GWe by 2030; 3.0% annual growth) and an upper scenario of two-fold growth (700 GWe in 2030; 4.2% annual growth).

Both the upper scenario and the reference scenario are "significantly lower" than the projections in the WNA's 2011 report. World Nuclear News reports: "The lower projected rate of growth of the nuclear sector in the latest edition of the WNA market report (compared with the 2011 edition) reflects the current and expected increased level of challenges facing utilities aiming to commission new nuclear power plants. These challenges are not only a result of the post-Fukushima calls for the industry to demonstrate higher levels of safety, but also the need to cope with stronger competition from alternative generating technologies at a time of more modest power demand growth expectations."[2]

In the reference scenario, uranium demand would reach 97,000 tU by 2030, from today's level of 62,000 tU. Provided that all uranium mines currently under development enter service as planned, the report finds that the uranium market should be adequately supplied to 2025; beyond this time new mines need to be operating.[2]

The IAEA has recently released its Annual Report for 2012, projecting nuclear power growth of 23% to 100% percent by 2030.[3] As with the WNA, the IAEA has scaled back its nuclear growth projections. The report notes that last year the UAE became the first country in 27 years to break ground on its first nuclear power plant. On the disposal of spent nuclear fuel, the IAEA report notes that most of its 158 member states have delayed the construction of repositories.

Historically, upper scenarios from the WNA and IAEA have always been fanciful, whereas lower scenarios are usually much closer to the mark.

[1] World Nuclear Association, 'The Global Nuclear Fuel Market: Supply and Demand 2013-2030',
[2] World Nuclear News, 12 September 2013, 'Uranium supply and demand in balance for now',
[3] IAEA Annual Report 2012,


France: Energy transition
Launching a two-day conference on France's energy transition, President Francois Hollande reiterated his 2012 election pledge to see nuclear's share of French generation capped at 50% by 2025, and the closure of France's oldest nuclear power plant, Fessenheim, by the end of 2016.[1]

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told the conference that revenue from existing nuclear plants would be earmarked to fund the country's move to an energy mix featuring more renewables. The unspecified nuclear tax would augment a new tax on fossil fuel consumption, expected to amount to one billion euros annually by 2016. [1]

Over 170,000 people have taken part in regional debates concerning the energy transition. Energy minister Philippe Martin has been charged with drawing up a law enshrining the energy transition, to be voted on by the end of 2014.

The move to reduce reliance on nuclear power is contested. A French parliamentary commission recently called on the government to delay the start of the replacement of nuclear power until 2030 and to extend the process to the end of the century (which makes little sense as existing reactors will be shut down long before the end of the century).[2]

Electricite de France SA (EDF) operates 58 power reactors in France. The reactors are on average 27 years old and are spread over 19 sites.[3] In July, the regulator Autorite de Surete Nucleaire said EDF would have to improve safety at its nuclear plants including ensuring spent fuel storage and reactor vessels are secure before it can approve operation beyond 40 years. "EDF must propose ambitious improvements for the safety of spent fuel storage" and be prepared to replace equipment on a large scale, ASN said. In April, ASN head Pierre-Franck Chevet said "we are a long way from making a decision" on extensions beyond 40 years.[6]

France's Green party has threatened to withdraw support for the Socialist government over the slow pace of its energy policy initiatives.[4]

French nuclear generation fell to its lowest level in at least six years on June 22−23, after EDF reduced output by around a third to manage oversupply in the grid and prevent prices turning negative for the second consecutive weekend.[5]

Meanwhile, progress is being made at a test facility near the small village of Bure in northeastern France, which the nuclear industry hopes to turn into a repository for intermediate- and high-level nuclear waste. The test facility has been completed at a depth of 480 metres underground. ANDRA − L'Agence nationale pour la gestion des dechets radioactifs − is planning to apply for construction approval for the final disposal site in 2015 for a planned start of construction in 2019. Cost estimates range from 14 billion euros to 55 billion euros. Opponents of the proposal, including some villagers, have prevented residents' debate sessions − a necessary step for obtaining construction approval − from being held. [7,8,9,10]

[1] World Nuclear News, 23 September 2013, 'Nuclear to fund French energy transition',
[2] NucNet, 16 September 2013, 'Commission Calls On French Government To Delay Nuclear Phase-out',
[3] Tara Patel / Bloomberg, 17 May 2013, 'France Must Decide on Energy Mix Before Reactors Close, ASN Says',
[4] Tara Patel / Bloomberg, 22 September 2013, 'France to Tax EDF Nuclear Output for Energy Shift to Renewables',
[5] Argus Media, 24 June 2013,
[6] Tara Patel / Bloomberg, 3 July 2013, 'EDF Must Boost Nuclear Safety to Operate Plants Beyond 40 Years',
[7] Hiroaki Miyagawa, 19 September 2013, 'Test under way at planned nuclear waste disposal site in French village amid protests', The Mainichi,
[8] 'Public comment on French waste disposal', 16 May 2013,
[9] Tara Patel / Bloomberg, 19 June 2013, 'French Nuclear-Waste Repository Debates Postponed by Protesters',
[10] Tara Patel / Bloomberg, 13 June 2013, 'Scariest Atomic-Waste Burial Plan Has French Villages Up in Arms',