• English
  • العربية
  • 中文
  • Français
  • Русский
  • Español

You are here

New IAEA Network Supports Countries in Long Term Operation of Nuclear Reactors


PAKS nuclear power plant operator, MVM Paksi Atomerömű Zrt, recently announced plans to extend the operating licence of the plant for another 20 years. (Photo: Radioaktív Hulladékokat Kezelő Kft.)

As the world looks to significantly increase nuclear power capacity to meet climate and energy security goals, several countries are considering or already extending the lifetime of nuclear power plants beyond their originally licensed lifetimes. The IAEA now has a new tool to support such countries, the International Network on Life Management of Nuclear Power Plants (LMNPP Network), which provides assistance for strategic, technical, administrative and economic aspects of long-term operation of nuclear power plants. 

Currently, about two thirds of the global reactor fleet is over 30 years old. Managing them and optimizing their life cycles is vital for countries to safely continue reaping their benefits. “While we urgently need to build new reactors, the continued safe and reliable operation of the existing fleet is an equally essential part of that solution.” IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said at the IAEA International Conference on Nuclear Power Plant Life Management in Vienna last year. 

The new network has come at an opportune time, just as global prospects for nuclear power have become brighter. In its 2023 outlook for global nuclear capacity, the IAEA increased its high case projection of its potential growth to 873 gigawatts in 2050, more than double current levels. And at the UN Climate Change Conference, COP28, last December, more than 22 countries agreed to work towards tripling global nuclear capacity by mid-century, while the climate summit’s final Global Stocktake called for accelerating nuclear power and other clean energy sources to achieve deep decarbonization. 

Achieving the IAEA’s high case projection would require nearly 600 gigawatts of new build capacity—but also large-scale implementation of long-term operation across the existing nuclear fleet. Several countries have already extended the operation of nuclear power plants beyond their typical 40-year initial lifespans, with some allowing reactors to operate up to 60 or even 80 years.  

The LMNPP Network is bringing together other international organizations, including the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Nuclear Energy Agency (OECD-NEA), the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (EC-JRC), the Sustainable Nuclear Energy Technology Platform (SNETP), the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), and the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO), to strengthen cooperation and assist Member States. 

The first LMNPP Network Steering Committee meeting was held last November and gathered 60 representatives from 26 countries and seven international organizations. “The LMNPP Network is a good way for IAEA Member States to coordinate, collaborate and communicate on issues and topics important to LTO [long-term operation] and plant life management,” said Garry G. Young, Chair of the Steering Committee and Technical Executive in Long-Term Operation and Ageing Management Strategy at United States-based EPRI. “I see the Network as a significant step in advancing the important work of the IAEA in this area and for improved cross-communication among Member States and international technical experts.”  

The new network—which builds on a history of IAEA support on ageing management, life management and long-term operation that goes back to the 1960—has so far received some 200 registrations. “I believe that the LMNPP Network could foster and enhance the collaboration between the other international organizations and the IAEA,” said Keiko Chitose, a Nuclear Safety Specialist at OECD-NEA. 

Professionals with relevant expertise may register for the network here and questions may be addressed to LMNPP.Contact-Point@iaea.org

Stay in touch