Due to the ongoing energy crisis and the trend of low-carbon energy, countries are brainstorming to find available power sources.
Now the United States, France, Belgium and other countries are seeking financial and political support, hoping to keep the nuclear power plants that are about to be decommissioned and continue to help the central power grid.
After the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan in 2011, countries reduced their nuclear energy investment due to concerns about nuclear safety, and the social opposition to nuclear energy also reached its peak.
However, the Russian-Ukrainian war this year has caused natural gas and energy prices to soar, and energy trends have quietly changed. Many countries have begun to embrace nuclear energy.
Belgium, for example, has decided that two reactors originally scheduled to be shut down in 2025 will continue to operate until 2036, hoping to reduce its reliance on Russian natural gas; Germany was also supposed to shut down all its reactors by the end of the year,
Discussions are now under way on whether to keep the last three reactors running into next year to help save natural gas during the winter.
After all, under the soaring energy prices, in addition to stabilizing the power supply, it is necessary to prepare for winter heating. After all, a decision has to be made.
It is simpler and cheaper to maintain and replace the existing reactor equipment than to build another nuclear power plant.
Many countries have spent tens of billions of dollars on new nuclear power plants in the past, and if the plants don’t run on schedule, it will push up their budgets again.
But there are also many countries planning to build more nuclear power plants, such as France’s proposal to build 14 large nuclear power reactors in the next few decades,
The United Kingdom, the Czech Republic, Bolan and other countries also have related construction plans, and the United States is also targeting small modular nuclear reactor (SMR) technology, hoping to change the old problems of expensive nuclear energy and huge time-consuming construction projects.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) says nuclear power’s CO2 emissions are approaching zero and extending the lifespan of nuclear power plants is an integral part of net-zero emissions by 2050 if cost-effectiveness is to be considered, though it really depends on the plant’s situation.
While nuclear energy appears to be making a comeback, there are still nuclear power plant closures. The United States has shut down 13 nuclear reactors since 2013, largely because the cost of alternative fuels such as natural gas is lower, leaving nuclear power without a competitive advantage.
California’s Nuclear Energy Plan has been changed
The Palisades nuclear power plant in Michigan in the United States was closed in May this year, and the Devil’s Valley nuclear power plant in California, which provides 8% of California’s power supply, is still scheduled to close in 2024 but California Governor Gavin Newsom has proposed continuing the operation until 2029 or longer.
The Hinkley Point B nuclear power plant in the UK has already said goodbye on August 1, other reactors in the UK will also be closed by 2028, and local officials in Canada intend to close the Pickering nuclear power plant in 2024.
Usually a nuclear power plant has a service life of about 40 years, after which some parts may need to be replaced, or there may be newer safety rules to follow,
The process costs a lot of money, for example, France will spend 50 billion euros to ensure that 56 nuclear reactors can continue to operate after 40 years.
And given that nuclear power plants require a lot of water to cool the reactors, and most of them are located next to the ocean or rivers, the future also needs to be careful about issues such as droughts, extreme weather storms and rising sea levels.