With 18 of the 32 reactors now being built located in Asia and more in the planning1/, Asian nations are at the forefront of the renewed interest in nuclear power generation according to the findings of a newly-released IAEA report. The "Energy, Electricity and Nuclear Power for the period up to 2030" report identifies countries such as Japan, South Korea, China and India as the center of the present global nuclear power expansion.
Commenting on the report´s findings, IAEA Nuclear Energy Analyst Alan McDonald said that factors such as growing energy demand, energy security and environmental concerns are driving the Asian nuclear power expansion.
"China and India have booming economies, booming populations, growing energy demand. They basically need to develop all the energy sources they can. Right now, nuclear electricity is only a small percentage, 2% in China, 3% of electricity in India. But China plans a five-fold increase by 2020 and India plans an eight-fold increase by 2022," he said.
"In Japan and South Korea the problem is not so much booming populations as a lack of indigenous oil and gas resources, and so for them nuclear is attractive for energy security reasons and also, in particular in Japan, for reducing greenhouse gas emissions."
Several other Asian countries either have plans to expand their nuclear power capacity, enter the nuclear arena for the first time, or have expressed the intention of doing so. Pakistan plans to build new reactors adding to its existing fleet of two units, while Vietnam intends to begin construction of its first nuclear power plant in 2015. Indonesia plans to build two 1000MW reactors in central Java while Thailand´s Energy Generating Authority has recently announced plans to build two large nuclear plants, with construction to begin in 2015. In Malaysia, a comprehensive energy policy study, including consideration of nuclear power, is to be completed by 2010.
The IAEA´s latest projections estimate global nuclear-generated electricity growth to 2030 to be between 25 and 93 per cent. At the high end, this amounts to an average growth rate of about 2.5% per year. "We certainly don´t today have a renaissance in construction but we very much do have a renaissance in interest," commented Mr. McDonald.
At the close of 2006, the 435 operating nuclear reactors located in 30 countries provided about 15% of total electricity worldwide.