Muenster, Germany - The nuclear accident in Fukushima has repercussions for global power generation by nuclear power plants. After an analysis of data from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in 2011 nuclear power generation fell by 4.3 percent to 2,518 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) (2010: 2,630 billion kWh). This is the lowest level since 2003 according to IWR, a renewable energy institute in Muenster. A further analysis of the age structure of global nuclear power stations additionally shows that many countries will very soon be facing major political challenges due to the age limit of 40 years being reached. For this operating period, the nuclear power plants are designed without any risk to safety, while the construction of a new plant takes at least seven years. According to an IWR projection, a timely replacement of the old plants with new nuclear power plants will foreseeably cost the countries about 1.1 trillion euros by 2030. \"Countries with nuclear power plants are looking at a gigantic wave of costs\", says IWR Director Dr. Norbert Allnoch.
Ageing nuclear power plants are becoming increasingly vulnerable and expensive
The nuclear power plants currently in operation around the world have an average age of about 27 years, according to the IWR. Above all, in those countries with an old power station fleet, such as the USA (32.9 years), France (27.6 years), Japan (26.0 years), Russia (28.9 years), Canada (28.7 years) or Great Britain (29.6 years), far-reaching decisions need to be made, when the long construction period for new plants is taken into account. The cost of replacing plants by 2030 is enormous: USA (396 billion euros), France (213 billion euros), Japan (106 billion euros), Russia (76 billion euros), Canada (43 billion euros). \"While Japan has already announced its withdrawal from nuclear energy, the debate in France is only just beginning due to the expected costs\", says Allnoch.
The transformation of the energy system puts Germany at an advantage
In Germany the decision to abandon nuclear energy has already been taken. If German politicians had not taken this decision and the 17 nuclear power plants, which were still in operation before Fukushima, had to be replaced, this would result in costs of 82 billion euros by 2030 for the construction of new plants and the replacement of existing ones alone. \"With the transformation of the energy system, we in Germany have brought forward a very important decision, which remains to be made in other countries\", states Allnoch. Accordingly, it is wholly conceivable that in future more countries will make a significant move towards renewable forms of energy. Allnoch: \"At present, we have a head start, since when it comes both to withdrawing from nuclear energy and starting to use renewable forms of energy, we are further ahead than other countries.\"
According to the IAEA, at the time of the IWR research (end of September 2012), 435 nuclear power plants with about 370 gigawatts (GW) were operating worldwide. Since 2000, 53 nuclear power plants with about 42 GW were connected to the grid. At the same time, 49 plants with 23 GW were shut down after an average lifetime of about 23 years. Many nuclear power stations were built in the 70s and 80s. The trend towards the building of new plants has diminished significantly over the last 10 years, since while new plants were constructed, old plants were also shut down. Here those plants not currently in operation in Japan are not yet regarded as having been shut down.
The operation of nuclear power plants is designed for a period of about 40 years. While it is true that some components can be used for longer, the physical ageing (material properties) of major components constitutes a risk. Furthermore, the overall construction of the plant cannot be changed. A comparison: In terms of its construction, a classic car also remains an old car when its parts and components are replaced.
Research into newly constructed plants in recent years has shown that the building of a new nuclear power plant takes about 7 years. In the IWR research, the assumption is made that the nuclear power plants are to be replaced after 40 years and that the current power plant capacity is to be maintained. Against the backdrop of the long construction period, the decisions regarding the replacement of existing power plant capacity already have to be taken years before the lifetime of 40 years is reached. The calculated costs of replacement do not include the additionally incurred costs for fuels, the disposal of radioactive waste and deconstruction.
Muenster, Germany, 19 October 2012
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About Internationales Wirtschaftsforum Regenerative Energien (IWR)
In 1996, the International Economic Platform for Renewable Energies (IWR) was established as an independent and private service institution of the renewable energy industry. The IWR focuses on the fields of research, economic and policy consultation as well as media and international networks in the renewable or regenerative energies sector. One main objective of the IWR is to play an instrumental role in introducing and spreading awareness for an industrial, international business profile of the renewable energy industry.
Dr. Norbert Allnoch, Director of the International Economic Platform of Renewable Energies (IWR), 1995, on the definition: "According to our definition, the Renewable Energy Industry is one which takes an interdisciplinary approach to the issue of renewable energy supply (protecting both the climate and resources) and the construction of renewable plants and systems (industry policy for the three areas electricity, heat and fuel."Chronology of the Renewable Energy Industry - Important IWR contributions, including prizes and awards - 2007 Publication of the first structural analysis for a federal state according to the IWR-analysis method for renewable systems engineering and servicesï¿½(study "Zur Lage der regenerativen Energiewirtschaft in NRW" )2007 International network-contacts:IWR-director Dr. Allnoch speaks with King Harald V. of Norway and ï¿½slaug Haga, norwegian minister of energy Presentation of the network / RENIXX in the USA, dialogue with McGinty, environment minister of Pennsylvania2006 IWR starts renewable stock index RENIXXï¿½ (