Who are the world’s nuclear powerhouses?
A new study of European countries, published in the journal Climate Policy, has shown that the most significant carbon reduction progress has been made by nations without nuclear energy, or with plans to reduce it.
According to the report, pro-nuclear countries have been slower to tackle carbon emissions and put renewable forms of generation in place. However, it’s difficult to determine if there’s a causal link between nuclear power and the slow uptake of renewables.
The study presents a dilemma for those who believe nuclear energy is the future of no-carbon energy generation. So, who are the countries most reliant on nuclear reactors to keep their lights on? And how realistic is the prospect of decommissioning this capacity?
By all accounts, the USA is the most nuclear-friendly nation on Earth. As of 2016, it had 99 reactors operating in 30 states — producing 19 percent of the country’s electricity — and five nuclear facilities under construction. Following a three-decade lull in reactor-building, it’s thought that the new units will come online by 2021.
While the World Nuclear Association says that the public opinion of nuclear energy in the USA has grown more favourable in recent decades, the issue of the disposal of nuclear waste is still of concern to environmentalists.
France derives 75 percent of its electricity from nuclear energy, the largest share of any country in the world. It is also the world’s largest net exporter of electricity thanks to its low cost of generation — and it pockets an extra €3 billion from these sales annually.
However, the country will reportedly cut its share of nuclear power generation to 50 percent by 2025, as the government aims to diversify its energy mix and further incorporate renewables.
A government decree published earlier this month has indicated that Russia intends to construct 11 new nuclear power reactors by 2030. As of 2015, the country was already operating 35 reactors with a combined capacity of 25,264 MWe.
Russia isn’t merely content to expand its own nuclear programme — it is looking to enhance its reputation as a global provider of nuclear knowledge. At present, the world’s largest nation is building a nuclear power station, called Kudankulam, in India. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently announced plans to further collaborate with Russia to build a handful of 1,000MW nuclear plants.
Mainland China currently has 20 nuclear power plants under construction — the largest number of any nation on Earth. As it seeks to phase out infamously unclean coal-fired capacity, the country is aiming to have 150GWe of nuclear installed by 2030.
According to reports published earlier this year, China will build 40 new nuclear plants by 2021. Like Russia, China is also keen to take an interest in nuclear power abroad, with the issue of Chinese investment proving contentious in the UK government’s pending Hinkley Point C decision.
Hydrostor receives $4m funding for A-CAES facility in Canada
Hydrostor has received $4m funding to develop a 300-500MW Advanced Compressed Air Energy Storage (A-CAES) facility in Canada.
The funding will be used to complete essential engineering and planning, and enable Hydrostor to plan construction.
The project will be modeled on Hydrostor’s commercially operating Goderich storage facility, providing up to 12 hours of energy storage.
Hydrostor’s A-CAES system supports Canada’s green economic transition by designing, building, and operating emissions-free energy storage facilities, and employing people, suppliers, and technologies from the oil and gas sector.
The Honorable Seamus O’Regan, Jr. Minister of Natural Resources, said: “Investing in clean technology will lower emissions and increase our competitiveness. This is how we get to net zero by 2050.”
A-CAES has the potential to lower greenhouse gas emissions by enabling the transition to a cleaner and more flexible electricity grid. Specifically, the low-impact and cost-effective technology will reduce the use of fossil fuels and will provide reliable and bankable energy storage solutions for utilities and regulators, while integrating renewable energy for sustainable growth.
Curtis VanWalleghem, Hydrostor’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “We are grateful for the federal government’s support of our long duration energy storage solution that is critical to enabling the clean energy transition. This made-in-Canada solution, with the support of NRCan and Sustainable Development Technology Canada, is ready to be widely deployed within Canada and globally to lower electricity rates and decarbonize the electricity sector."
The Rosamond A-CAES 500MW Project is under advanced development and targeting a 2024 launch. It is designed to turn California’s growing solar and wind resources into on-demand peak capacity while allowing for closure of fossil fuel generating stations.
Hydrostor closed US$37 million (C$49 million) in growth financing in September 2019.