Table of Contents
The Energy Challenge
Nuclear Power Facts
Nuclear Power Advantages
The Salient Points
Annex I: The DECADES Project
Annex II: Nuclear Power Case Studies
Since the early 1970s, France has developed an extensive nuclear power programme for both security of energy supply and economic considerations. Nuclear power is now a basic element of energy supply with a 76% share of domestic and a 37% share of total available supply (see Table A-1). It has decreased reliance on imported energy, which fell below 50% in 1977.
FRENCH ENERGY SUPPLY IN 1993
Coal Oil Gas Electricity from hydro Renewable Total and nuclear Primary energy 6.2 3.3 2.9 15.2 4.2 113.5 consumption 81.7 Imports 9.3 106.8 25.7 0.8 0.0 142.6 Exports -0.7 -17.3 -0.5 -14.5 0.0 -33.0 Change in stocks -0.2 0.4 0.8 0.0 0.0 1.0 Total 14.6 93.2 28.8 83.3 4.2 224.1
At the end of 1996, there were 57 operating plants - 55 pressurized water reactors (PWRs) and 2 fast breeder reactors (FBRs) - with an installed capacity of some 61 500 MW(e) accounting for nearly 80% of electricity production. The most recent unit of 1450 MW(e) was connected to the electricity grid in early 1997 and two similar units are under construction. Electricité de France (EDF), a national utility, is responsible for operation of all plants.
The accumulated operating experience is almost 800 reactor-years. The availability factor of operating plants in 1996 was about 81%, an indication of high performance. The most recent government study indicates a continued economic advantage of nuclear power over both coal and gas for a discount rate of 5%, with its competitive advantage decreasing for higher rates (see Table A-2).
In 1995, the nuclear industry contributed 29 billion francs to the balance of payments, with 18 billion francs through electricity exports to neighbouring countries and 11billion through nuclear fuel cycle services and fossil fuel exports. Since the mid-1970s, the use of nuclear power has led to a sharp decrease in total CO2 and SO2 emissions, the CO2 emissions by a factor of 9 per kW·h [Fig.: Decreasing CO2 and SO2 Emissions].
ELECTRICITY GENERATION COST IN FRANCE (operating time of 6000 h/a)
Year Investment Operation Fuel R & D Total Nuclear 1993 (8% DR) 13.6 5.6 4.5 - 6.2 0.4 24.1 - 25.8 1997 (8% DR) 20.7 - 21.2 1997 (5% DR) 16.7 - 17.2 Coala 1993 (8% DR) 11.3 5.8 11.7 - 17.7 -- 28.8 - 34.8- 1997 (8% DR) 22.7 - 26.5 19.5 - 23.9 Gasb 1993 (8% DR) 5.9 2.4 21.1 - 27.4 -- 29.4 - 35.7 1997 (8% DR) 19.1 - 28.2 1997 (5% DR) 18.2 - 27.2
a - Circulating fluidized bed combustion plant.
b - Combined cycle plant.
- - Coal alternative to nuclear power
A recent case study carried out through the DECADES project assessed the economic and environmental impact of the large nuclear programme initiated in 1970 compared to an alternative programme that could have been initiated at the same time. A large number of factors - including necessary coal mining and harbour development as well as differing coal technologies and pollution control devices - along with investment and operating cost impacts were considered.
Coal would have supplied some 80% of energy with a high dependence on imports. Domestic investment in electricity generation would have been lower and electricity costs would have been 20% higher. There would have been negative impacts at the macro-economic level such as a reduction by 1% in purchasing power, a cumulative external trade balance deficit and nearly 100 000 jobs lost. As already indicated, in the environmental area CO2 and SO2 emissions would have been sharply higher.
Republic of Korea
With an economic growth rate of some 10% per year, the gross domestic product in the Republic of Korea increased about five-fold in the period 1970–1995 to more than $7500, with a corresponding sharp increase in energy demand that is continuing today. With limited fossil fuel resources, the country has since the early 1970s developed a large nuclear power programme.
Nuclear power is now the major domestic energy source [Fig.: Energy Supply] with a 36% share of electricity generation. Electricity consumption per capita - some 3 MW·h per year - is low and should grow rapidly during the next decades. Nuclear power will provide much of the increased demand, reducing the dependence on imported fossil fuels and also providing environmental benefits.
There are currently 12 operating nuclear power plants (10 PWRs and 2 pressurized heavy water reactors (PHWRs)) with 6 units under construction (4 PWRs and 2 PHWRs). Nine additional units will be added by 2010, with the installed nuclear capacity expected to increase some three-fold. The Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO), a national utility, is responsible for operation of all units. Short construction times and high average availability - over 87% in 1993 and 1994 - have enhanced the competitiveness of nuclear electricity, which is currently some 20% cheaper than other sources.
- - Cost effective approach to emissions
Electricity generation accounted for 20% of total CO2 emissions in 1994, a relatively small fraction compared to other countries. A DECADES case study of the effects of CO2; taxation and regulatory emission constraints shows that an increase in the nuclear and liquefied natural gas share would be a cost effective approach to constraining CO2 emissions for each of three scenarios examined - a reference, weak and strong taxation and regulatory approach [Fig.: Energy Share for Three Scenarios].
At the end of 1996, Japan had 53 operating nuclear power units with an installed capacity of 42 400 MW(e), supplying 34% of total electricity. Two additional units [1 boiling water reactor (BWR) and 1 PWR] with a total capacity of 2100 MW(e) will be in operation by 1998. The nuclear units are operated principally by private utilities. Japan has a large advanced reactor research and development programme that includes a demonstration fast breeder reactor along with research on high temperature gas cooled reactors, and has built a 30 MW thermal unit at Oarai.
- - Energy supply
A 1994 Ministry of International Trade and Industry long term energy supply- demand outlook covering the period to 2010 shows that security of supply remains a major factor for Japan along with economic competitiveness and environmental protection, particularly through greenhouse gas emission reductions. Nuclear installed capacity is expected to increase from the current 40 000 MW(e) to at least 70 000 MW(e) by 2010. The competitiveness of nuclear power with fossil fuels is well established. Electricity from renewable energy sources would be substantially more costly than that from nuclear power.
In 1994, the electricity shares of fossil, nuclear power and hydroelectric were 65.3%, 26.8% and 7.9% respectively. The total CO2 emission from the electricity sector was 312 million tonnes, with nuclear power avoiding 119 million tonnes [Fig.: Energy Supply]. A recent study by the Japanese Institute of Energy Economics concluded that decreasing emission levels to 1990 levels by 2010 would require increasing the nuclear installed capacity from the current 40 000 MW(e) to 160 000 MW(e), far above the planned increase to 70 000 MW(e) [Fig.: CO2 Emission Saving].