vendredi 14 novembre 2014


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Nuclear centre of gravity goes East

From les Échos 13/11 Véronique Lebillion

This figure shows an apparent stability, which hides major evolutions. By 2040, nuclear share in power generation will rise by 1%, to reach an overall 12%, according to the main scheme published Wednesday by the IAEA. Taking into account the increase of global power demand (namely 2,1% yearly), this stability means an increase of nearly 60% of the installed nuclear power, corresponding to 624 gigawatt (GW) to be compared with 392 GW last year. Above all, nuclear geography will experience major changes: in China, installed capacities will be multiplied by ten, to 149 GW, corresponding to nearly a quarter of the global installed capacity in 2040.
Thus the IAEA report confirms the switch of the nuclear generation capacity towards East: whereas the United States would record a slow growth, the European Union (together with Japan) would be the sole area where atom would record a decline (-14%). In Europe, nuclear share of power generation would decrease from 27% to 21% over the time considered. Moreover, there is a major issue: if the main part of nuclear countries extends the lifespan of their infrastructures commissioned in the seventies and eighties, 200 on the 434 reactors now operated in the world would be in course of dismantling by 2040, writes the IAEA.

Several stakes
These assessments won’t be enough to contain global warming, regrets the agency, which adds that the nuclear park has avoided the equivalent of two years of carbon emissions since 1971. But nuclear arouses many problems, among which the acceptation by public opinion and financing of the stations, which is very capitalistic. “Nuclear generation is a major option to generate power, with no carbon emission and without intermittence. The bearish tendency in Europe should question these countries about the way to balance it”, says Fatih Birol, chief economist of the IAEA.
The number of countries operating nuclear power generation should climb from 31 in 2013 to 36 in 2040, included those which announced their coming out from atom (Germany, Switzerland and Belgium). Among the forty countries having expressed interest for a first nuclear station, fifteen have a network size and an economic weight corresponding to the required investments, writes the IAEA.