On paper, the fear of global warming should have a positive impact on the nuclear power industry, but figures from 2019 show the output from the greenhouse gas emissions-free industry dropped slightly during the year.
Operating capacity was “slightly down” at the end of 2019 compared with a year earlier, according to the World Nuclear Association, with capacity slipping to 392.4 GWe. In terms of hardware, the number of operating reactors dropped by three with six nuclear reactors coming online and nine hitting permanent retirements. Two of the six new reactors, however, were relatively small, consisting of the floating Russian nuclear power plant called Akademik Lomonosov. Each of the reactors onboard are 32 MWe reactors.
Additionally, two units came online in China – Taishan 2 and Yangjiang 6. South Korea’s Shin Kori plant added a Unit 4 and a Russian reactor, Novovoronezh II, Unit 2 was connected to the grid.
Meanwhile, Russia lost one reactor, Bilibino 1 and Taiwan lost one, Chinshan 2. Switzerland shuttered the Muhleberg reactor, while Germany closed down Philippburg 2 and South Korea left Wolsong offline – it had been closed since June 2018 and was pronounced finished in December last year. In Sweden, the Ringhals 2 reactor was closed down. In the United States, both the Pilgrim power plant and Three Mile Island, Unit 1, were shuttered. In Japan, Genkai, Unit 2, was turned off.
Two U.S. nuclear plants, Browns Ferry Unit 2 and Peach Bottom Unit 2, added power, 155 MWe and 22 MWe, respectively. In Argentina, an uprate added 35 MWe to the Embalse plant.
The final tally for 2019: There are 442 reactors in operation on Planet Earth representing 392.4 GWe (net). There are 54 plants under construction representing 59.9 GWe (gross), the WNA said.
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