About 60 percent of South Korea’s energy is expected to come from nuclear power stations in three decades, a drastic rise from its current level of 40 percent.
The Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) said yesterday it predicts the nation’s dependency on nuclear power will soar thanks to the next-generation nuclear facilities under construction.
``If we cannot find a new energy source to replace today’s fossil fuels, we have no choice but to raise our reliance on nuclear power,’’ MOST director general Kim Young-shik said.
My guess is that 40% of South Korea's electricity, not of its total energy comes from nuclear power. The article probably got it wrong (perhaps due to a translation error).
The South Koreans are a smart bunch of people and they are betting on nuclear power. They already get a lot of power from nuclear reactors and also are actively engaged in 4th generation nuclear reactor research and fusion reactor research.
I agree with those who suspect the Saudis are greatly exaggerating their oil reserves. A recent president of Aramco disputes the official Saudi Arabian line on the expandability of Saudi production. I strongly suspect the oil era does not have many decades left to run (and the global warming debate is based on a big false assumption about oil reserves). I write about energy policy because I see energy as a big problem we need to solve sooner, not later.
Worldwide, there are 440 nuclear power plants, and 24 more are under construction, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna.
New nuclear stations and an extended life for existing ones will offset the closure of aging plants to keep the share of nuclear energy in the global power capacity mix at 12 percent in a decade, according to estimates from PricewaterhouseCoopers.
The two wild cards in my opinion: a decline in Saudi oil production and breakthroughs in solar photovoltaics production costs.
Most reactor building is in countries that are new to nuclear power. There are 25 reactors under construction in 10 countries, according to the World Nuclear Association, an industry group, and another 112 are planned or proposed.
Interest is keenest among expanding Asian economies. Of the last 30 nuclear reactors to have connected to the power grid, 20 have been in Asia. India, where nuclear power accounts for 2.8% of electricity production, has nine reactors under construction. It wants to boost the amount of electricity generated by nuclear plants by 100 times by the middle of the century.
The authority idled the reactor in northern Alabama in 1985 because its physical layout didn't match architectural drawings. Restarting Browns Ferry 1 will cost about US$1.8 billion. New plants may be built within six years, Senate Energy Committee Chairman Pete Domenici, a New Mexico Republican, said in April.
Nuclear plants may contribute about 200 gigawatts of the 4,800 gigawatts of new capacity needed until 2030, according to the IEA. European countries will add more than 40 gigawatts of nuclear capacity by 2030, the IEA said.
Nuclear capacity will increase in Asia to 8 percent of the region's total in 10 years, from 5 percent now. China, the world's second-largest electricity consumer after the US, plans to add about 30 gigawatts of nuclear generation by 2030, while Russia could add another 22 gigawatts. Korea may add 17 gigawatts and Japan about 14 gigawatts, according to the IEA.
Note above the absolutely huge growth in total electric generation capacity forecast in the next 25 years. My guess is that oil will stay expensive and perhaps rise further. This will shift demand away from oil toward natural gas and that will keep natural gas expensive. So nuclear will compete with coal and wind and in the longer term with solar. But wind may win out in areas which ban nuclear and coal power plants.
A study by the UK's Royal Academy of Engineering last year showed that one unit of gas generation costs four cents per megawatt-hour, compared with 4.3 cents for a nuclear plant, 4.7 cents for a coal-fired plant and 6.7 cents at a wind park.
Total costs of producing nuclear power, including construction and decommissioning, are likely to be US$46 per megawatt-hour in 2010, less than the US$50.80 for a gas-fired station and the US$54.39 for a coal-fired plant, a study published in March by UBS AG said. The calculation assumes oil prices fall to US$32.50 a barrel, after 2007. If oil prices slid below US$28, nuclear wouldn't be competitive against gas, UBS said.
If coal plant operators were forced to reduce emissions now then my guess is coal would cost at least as much as wind power and perhaps more. Though emissions control technology advances in the future will reduce the cost of emissions reduction I still expect coal emissions reduction to remain fairly expensive. So far in the United States the coal burners have managed to delay tougher regulatory standards on emissions. But I expect the American public to attach increasing importance to cleaner environments. As living standards rise people place greater value on esthetic and health considerations. So coal plant lobbyists are eventually going to lose against public opinion.
My guess is that nuclear power in East Asia is going play out in a manner similar to the French pattern. The East Asia peoples won't take environmentalist objections seriously and instead will see nuclear as the cleanest, most reliable, and cost effective alternative to fossil fuels. The future of nuclear power in the United States is less clear. While some environmentalists are having second thoughts about their opposition so far coal looks set to meet the bulk of future growth in US demand with wind and nuclear playing smaller roles. At some point the price of photovoltaics will plunge and solar power may become the biggest energy providers. But until then nuclear looks like the most cost effective cleaner alternative to coal.
|Share |||Randall Parker, 2005 July 19 06:52 PM Energy Policy|