Key reasons why we are likely to see a rise in nuclear energy
Published: 20 Mar 2018 By Matt Cook
The nuclear industry has experienced multiple challenges in recent years through increased competition from lower gas prices, rapid developments within the renewables sector and relatively slow developments in demand for electricity in certain markets. However, industry experts have suggested that there are signs that the nuclear industry will see a resurgence.
The announcement of a series premature closure of nuclear sites across the US and further scheduled closures have ultimately resulted in higher emissions levels and an increase in energy prices. Experts have emphasised that this is a clear indicator that it is very difficult for any economy to provide a reliable, efficient, low carbon system without including nuclear energy in the mix.
New nuclear plants are coming
Over 50 nuclear plants are currently in construction with a further 150 sites in early planning stages. These figures indicate a significant increase in the rate of development. This year we are likely to see over ten new nuclear plants become operational, including the Westinghouse AP1000 and Framatome EPR in China. Further reactors in the UAE are also nearing completion this year, achieving their scheduled delivery time and budget. Experts suggest that these sites highlight that the nuclear technology has improved and economic plans are being delivered within the proposed timescale.
Modifications to leading Nuclear Companies
Some of the largest and most prominent businesses in nuclear have modified their business to become more efficient and effective in the global market. Areva has redeveloped their business into Framatome and Orano, with EDF energy taking control of Framatome. With a combination of International support along with French investment, Orano can maintain its presence in the areas of uranium mining and enrichment. The ‘China National Nuclear Company’ (CNNC), the second largest reactor owner in China has merged with ‘China Nuclear Equipment Company’ (CNEC) to produce a huge nuclear business with a focus on the export market. Industry experts believe we are likely to see further significant agreements and deals within the nuclear industry this year.
Facing the Challenge of Climate Change
The increasing risk of climate change is and continues to drive countries to invest further into new nuclear projects or at least maintain their existing plants. The nuclear sector provides the biggest source of emission-free energy in the EU, US and South Korea. Whilst Germany has made the decision to close its nuclear plants, nuclear industry supplies approximately three-quarters of the energy in France.
Some energy experts have suggested that nuclear power is the only real option that will allow us to progress in challenging in the impacts of climate change.
Avoiding our reliance on gas
The decrease in prices for natural gas has allowed it to replace coal as the biggest source of energy generation in the US. Replacing coal with gas does mean lower emissions, however, if gas continues to dominate and replaces nuclear plants then emissions will start to rise. Our continued reliance on gas and increase of esports is also raising challenges with pipeline construction. Whilst gas companies believe prices will remain low, there has been price spike in previous years. Outside of the US, the largest gas producers are within Russia, Iran, and Qatar.
Progressive nuclear technology
The nuclear industry has advanced and further innovations are making nuclear more competitive with other energy sources. Advanced reactor sites now use updated technologies that are both safer and cost efficient. There is now a progression towards smaller modular reactors (SMRs) that allow business to develop in-house and deliver directly to sites.
The demand for effective, secure and emission-free sources of energy is continuing to rise significantly. The nuclear industry has the potential to become a major source of energy that can meet these demands.
Explore the latest nuclear engineering jobs available with Energy Jobline.