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WNA: global nuclear generation nears record high in 2019

Nuclear generation reached a near-record high in 2019, with output reaching 2657 TWh, enough to meet more than 10% of the world’s electricity demand, according to the recently published World Nuclear Association Performance Report 2020.


Source: World Nuclear Association and IAEA Power Reactor Information Service (PRIS)

In 2019, nuclear electricity generation rose for the seventh year running, demonstrating excellent performance. In 2020 the world’s nuclear reactors have shown resilience and flexibility, adapting to changes in demand while ensuring stable and reliable electricity supplies.

—Agneta Rising, Director General of World Nuclear Association

Growth was particularly strong in Asia, where nuclear generation rose by 17% in 2019. China has more than tripled nuclear generation in six years, from 105 TWh in 2013 to 330 TWh in 2019, and is now responsible for more than half of nuclear generation in Asia.

While the performance of the world’s operating reactors continued to improve, the pace of new nuclear start-ups needs to increase to meet the nuclear industry’s Harmony goal. Six reactors, with a combined capacity of 5.2 GWe started supplying electricity, compared to an average annual objective for 2016-2020 of 10 GWe.

Other key findings from the report:

  • Six reactors started up in 2019, four large PWRs commenced operation, one in South Korea, one in Russia and two in China. In addition, two small reactors started up on the world’s first purpose-built floating nuclear plants, harbored at Pevek on the northeast Russian coast.

  • Nuclear generation fell fractionally in North America and in West & Central Europe, but rose in Africa, Asia, South America and East Europe & Russia.

  • The average global capacity factor for reactors generating electricity in 2019 rose from 79.8% to 82.5%.

  • More than two-thirds of the world’s reactors achieved a capacity factor greater than 80%, This maintains the significant improvement there has been since the 1970s, when fewer than 30% achieved this level of performance.

  • Five reactors reached 50 years of operation in 2019.

  • There is no age-related decline in capacity factor seen in nuclear reactor performance, with average capacity factors increasing with age for reactors between 40 and 50 years old.

  • Thirteen reactors shut down in 2019, four in Japan had not generated since 2011 and three were shut down due to phase-out policies in South Korea, Germany and Taiwan.

  • Construction started on five reactors in 2019, two in China and one each in Iran, Russia and the UK.

  • Median construction time for reactors starting up in 2019 was 117 months. This is above the average achieved since 2001. This is in part due to the majority of reactors entering service in 2019 being first of a kind, or reactors that started construction soon after the initial FOAK reactor.

  • The construction of a new design need not result in a long construction time. Yangjiang 6, the second ACPR-1000 unit to be built, was completed in 66 months.


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