Energy Snapshot of the Week

Status of nuclear programmes, end-2013

Almost 40 countries are considering introducing nuclear power. The majority of these are located in Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Though the group is large, caution should be exercised in assessing which might actually build a first nuclear plant and over what timeframe.

There are many hurdles to introducing nuclear power. An adequate regulatory framework, overseen by an entity that is both competent and independent, is imperative. Also critical are a country’s underlying economic, political and social conditions. To build a large-scale reactor, adequate financial resources must be available, and the grid must be large enough to accommodate it. Based on a standard 1 GW reactor, good practice dictates that a minimum grid capacity of 10 GW is required before a new nuclear plant can be introduced, to avoid difficulties when it needs to be taken offline. Of the countries that have expressed interest in developing nuclear power, only 15 have grids larger than 10 GW in size.

Additional insights can be gleaned from reviewing the progress individual countries have made towards bringing their first reactors online. In 2012, the United Arab Emirates became the first newcomer to start construction of a new plant since China in 1985. In 2013 and 2014, first concrete was poured at two separate projects in Belarus. Turkey is expected to build its first nuclear plant in 2015-2016 and Vietnam in 2017-2018.

To learn more see the World Energy Outlook 2014.