European Union Countries with Nuclear Energy
The nuclear energy in the European Union accounts approximately 15% of total energy consumption. The energy policies of the European Union (EU) member countries vary significantly. As of January 2008, 15 of these countries have operable reactors that produce nuclear energy. The countries with reactors include Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Lithuania, Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and United Kingdom.
title=World Nuclear Power Reactors 2007-08 and Uranium Requirements
publisher=World Nuclear Association
accessdate=2008-08-25] Countries such as France and Finland embrace nuclear technology, while Germany has begun to phase its use out.
title=Nuclear Power in Germany
publisher=World Nuclear Association
The EU in 2002 satisfied its energy requirements with 41% oil, 22% gas, 16% coal, 15% nuclear, and 6% renewables.
title=The future of nuclear energy in the European Union
author= Fernanado Esteban
publisher=Directorate General for Energy and Transport: European Commission
accessdate=2008-08-05] In 2005, nuclear energy provided the second largest source (30.2%) of energy with an installed capacity of 135,097 MW (18.2% of all installed capacity). It was also the leading power source in Belgium, France, Lithuania, Slovakia, and Sweden. France is the largest nuclear energy producer with 450,000 GWh in 2005. Total nuclear energy generation from EU power plants increased by 25% from 1995 to 2005. The majority of this growth occurred in the 1990s and nuclear electricity production decreased by 1.1% from 2004 to 2005 and installed capacities decreased by 2.6% since 1990.
title=Gas and electricity market statistics
European nuclear policy is governed by the EURATOM treaty. Therefore regular European policy, on for example environment or the market does not apply to issues in the nuclear field. In the EU level, DG TREN is the main authority for EU nuclear issues, and the European Council is the locus for intergovernmental decisions. The European Parliament doesn't have authority in the field of nuclear other then the right to ask questions to the Commission.
In case of a radiological emergency, the EU will trigger its ECURIE alert system, which immediately notifies all national authorities of an impending nuclear hazard. This system was installed after the experience with the Chernobyl disaster.
The FP7 research program has a special branch which is governed under the EURATOM treaty, which deals with community research into nuclear issues. The European Commission, or rather, the JRC is owner of the high flux reactor (HFR) in Petten, NL.
In November 2007 the [http://ec.europa.eu/energy/nuclear/forum/index_en.htm European Nuclear Energy Forum] (ENEF), or the Bratislava/Prague forum, was launched to bring the policy on nuclear issues in the EU forward. The forum has workinggroups on "Risks", "Transparency" and "Opportunities". Policymakers, industry and NGOs are participating.
At present, the European Commission is investigating the issue of Nuclear liability, and is seeking how to harmonise the Vienna Convention on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage and the Paris Convention on Third Party Liability in the Field of Nuclear Energy, as the differing caps on liability constitute a distortion of competition between operators in members states.
The Commisisons's SET plan mentions the " [http://ec.europa.eu/energy/res/setplan/doc/com_2007/2007_memo_graphical_en.pdf sustainable nuclear fission initiative] " to develop Generation IV reactors as one of the research priorities of the European Union.
On average, the EU creates about 40,000 cubic meters of radioactive waste per year. Eighty percent of that is short-lived low-level radioactive waste.
title=Management of spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste
publisher= Europa. SCADPlus
accessdate=2008-08-05] France and the United Kingdom are currently the only EU countries that reprocess waste . However, the reprocessing of spent fuel in the UK is being phased out but is expected to continue in France. The countries that currently use this reprocessed fuel (MOX) include Germany, Belgium, France and Switzerland.
title=Nuclear power plants in the world
publisher= Commissariat à l'Énergie Atomique (CEA)
accessdate=2008-08-05] Reprocessing spent fuel significantly decreases the amount and it produces the by-product plutonium. Although plutonium is regularly related to nuclear weapons, the plutonium created from these reprocessing facilities has too much of the isotope Pu-240, making them inefficient for nuclear weapon use.
title=Talk of nuclear revival rekindles waste concerns
The EBRD is financing the Nuclear decommissioning of several old nuclear plants in the new European memberstates
At present, the High level group on safety and waste management a body with nuclear regulators from all meberstates, is discussing if and how nuclear regulation in the European union could be harmonised.
European nuclear industry
The European nuclear industry works together in the Sustainable nuclear energy technology platform (SNE-TP) to develop Generation IV nuclear reactors. The interests of the EU industry are being represented by the Foratom-trade group.
European public opinion is reticent towards nuclear energy. However, nuclear energy makes a positive contribution to the energy-independence of the EU and to the security of supply. Also, in order to meet the Kyoto Protocol requirements in reducing Greenhouse Gas emissions countries find it imperative to replace fossil fuel power plants with cleaner energy sources, of which nuclear power is one possibility. Finally, if the future demand for electricity is to be satisfied, the EU cannot eliminate nuclear power as an energy source.
But the negatives of nuclear energy include the high cost of building nuclear power plants. And there is also the problem of final disposal of nuclear waste.
title=Nuclear Energy: Still a Bad Idea
author= Jeremy Rifkin
publisher=The Los Angeles Times
According to a 2006 (published in 2007) poll by Eurobarometer, 39% of EU citizens would prefer to reduce the share of nuclear energy in the overall energy mix, while 34% would keep it at the present level and 14% would like to increase its share. (Public opinion in countries that had nuclear power plants in operation tended to be more positive than in countries where domestic energy sources did not include nuclear power.)
title=Europeans and Nuclear Safety
date= February 2007
The future plans for nuclear power in the EU range from maintaining or increasing its usage (UK) to gradual phaseouts (Sweden, Belgium, Germany). In Germany, a provisional shutdown schedule for nuclear plants has the last plant, Neckarwestheim, closing in 2022.
Based on energy requirements for the EU, some see shutdowns across Europe as unlikely.
The European nuclear fleet is ageing, and to merely maintain the current nuclear generation capacity requires considerable effort.
Majority of Europeans support an active role for the EU in harmonizing legislation between the EU member countries and facilitating cooperation between experts.
In 1962, Belgium received its first nuclear reactor – 11 MWe pressurized water reactor - from the United States. The country’s first commercial nuclear reactor began operating in 1974. Currently, Belgium has seven nuclear reactors operating in the country with a net MWe of 5,761. Electricity consumption in Belgium has increased slowly since 1990 and Nuclear energy provides 54%, 45 billion kWh per year, of the country’s energy.
[“Nuclear Power in Belgium.” "World Nuclear Association." March 2008. ] ]
A national agency is responsible for radioactive waste management, including transport, treatment, conditioning, storage, and disposal. The main disposal facility is the Mol-Dessel site, which stores short-lived intermediate-level waste and high-level waste. Several shipments of reprocessed Belgian spent fuel, from France, have also been shipped to the Mol-Dessel site.
In the year 2000, a government appointed commission reported that nuclear energy was important to Belgium and recommended further development. However, a January 2003 Act prohibited building new nuclear power plants and limited the operating lives of the plants to 40 years. The 40-year operating life has the first plant closing in 2014 and the last plant in 2025. However, the electricity and gas regulator (CREG) can override this Act if Belgium’s energy security is threatened. In the 2007, the Belgian Commission on Energy said that the use of nuclear energy is imperative to meet CO2 requirements and maintain economic stability. Furthermore, the commission believed that energy prices would double without the use of nuclear energy. The commission finally recommended that the operating lives of the seven nuclear reactors should be extended.
The Bulgarian government has favored nuclear energy to generate electricity since 1956 and its first commercial nuclear reactor began to operate in 1974. Currently, the two operating reactors produce a net MWe of 1,906 and two more reactors are under construction and will be completed by 2014, with net capacities of 1,900 MWe. The two operating reactors provide approximately 35% of the country’s electricity.
[“Nuclear Power in Bulgaria.” "World Nuclear Organization." February 2008. < http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf87.html>] ]
Bulgaria had four nuclear power plants until December 2006, when it shut down two of its older reactors because they did not conform to IAEA safety criteria.Fact|date=August 2008 Furthermore, the EU offered membership and EUR 200 million if Bulgaria shut down the two reactors. However, in 2003 and 2007, the World Association of Nuclear Operators deemed that the two units met all international standards for safe operation. Bulgaria still shut down the reactors, although 75% of the population voted against the shutdown, in order to obtain EU membership. Prior to the shutdown of the two reactors, Bulgaria was produced 44 billion kWh and exported 7 billion to Greece, Turkey, Serbia, and Macedonia.
Bulgaria is building two new nuclear reactors in Belene, Bulgaria with approximately 1,000 MWe capacities. The two reactors will be similar to new reactors built by Atomstroyexport in India and China. These reactors have satisfied stringent Western European standards and are more acceptable in the EU than the two shutdown reactors.
Bulgaria has a state agency in charge of radioactive waste disposal. Under a 2002 agreement, Bulgaria pays Russia $620 thousand/ton to reprocess spent fuel. The country also spent EUR 49 million to construct a new storage facility and has plans to build another facility by 2015.
The Czechoslovak government completed its first nuclear power plant – a gas-cooled heavy water reactor – in 1972 in Bohunice. The country’s first commercial nuclear power plant began operating in 1985, and the government is still committed to nuclear energy today. The Czech Republic currently has six nuclear reactors with a net MWe of 3,472 and plans to build two more 1,500 MWe reactors by 2020.
[“Nuclear Power in the Czech Republic.” "World Nuclear Organization." February 2007. ] According to data from 1990 to 2005, the Czech Republic posted the largest increase in nuclear energy capacity (114%) and energy production (96%) of any EU country. Furthermore, the Czech Republic exported 24,985 GWh in 2005.] [ ]
The Czech Republic currently has no state policy on storage or reprocessing of nuclear waste but leaves the responsibility on the Czech Power Company (CEZ). The CEZ does not believe reprocessing is economic and stores spent fuel until the Radioactive Waste Repository Authority (RAWRA) assumes responsibility for it. The RAWRA will select a permanent location for storage by 2015 and construction will begin on this site after 2050.
The Czech Republic and Austria (nuclear free country) have had disagreements concerning the Temelín Nuclear Power Station only 50 km from the Czech-Austrian border. Austria had threatened the Czech Republic with difficulties in joining the EU if the plant was commissioned. Other opponents to this power plant pointed out that it had the same design as the Chernobyl and the Czech President at the time, Vaclav Havel, called the plant “megalomaniacal.” [“Czech reactor: Twenty years of controversy.” "BBC News." 13 October 2000. < http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/968533.stm> ]
Between the years, 1977-1980 Finland built four nuclear reactors, which are still in service today. [“Finland: New reactor and waste disposal plans.” "Wise – Nuclear issues information service." 15 December 2000. ] The four reactors had an output of 2,696 MWe in 2006, which accounts for 27% of the electricity needs of the country. Finland’s four nuclear reactors, considered as the world’s most efficient, have average capacity factors of 94%. Originally, Finland’s Olkiluoto 1 & 2 provided 690 MWe in the period 1978 to 1980, but upgrades over the years have each reactor producing 870 MWe. The country is also building a fifth nuclear reactor with a completion date in 2011 and discussion has begun for installing a sixth reactor.
[“Nuclear Power in Finland.” "World Nuclear Association." February 2008. < http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf76.html>] ]
Responsibility for storage and disposal of nuclear waste remains with the power companies. Prior to 1996, Finnish companies would export nuclear waste to Russia. However, a Finnish law passed in 1996 prohibited the transport of nuclear waste abroad. With this law, Finland became the first country that decided to encapsulate spent nuclear fuel into deep repositories. Repository construction is to begin in 2012 with completion by 2020. Once in operation, the process will involve putting twelve fuel assemblies into a boron steel canister and enclosing it into a copper capsule. Each capsule will then be placed in its own hole in the repository and packed with bentonite clay. The estimated cost of this project is about EUR 818 million, which includes the cost of construction, encapsulation, and operating costs. The State Nuclear Waste Management Fund has saved approximately EUR 1.4 billion from charges for generated electricity.
By building its new reactors and building the storage facility for nuclear waste, Finland will reduce its dependence on Russia for energy, which currently provides 70% of Finland’s energy needs. Furthermore, the construction of new nuclear power plants will help the country better meet its greenhouse gas targets. The new reactors will be the first built in Western Europe since 1991. [“Finland opts for new nuclear reactor.” "BBC News". 24 May 2002. ]
Through most of the 1970s France was a net electricity importer. In 1974, after the first oil price shock, France decided to expand rapidly its nuclear power capacity to become energy independent. Currently, France has 59 nuclear reactors, operated by Electricite de France (EDF), from which it creates 78% of its energy or 63,363 MWe. France also produces enough surplus electricity that it is the world’s largest net exporter of electricity and made about EUR 3 billion from selling to other countries. Over the past decade, those exports have amounted to 60-70 billion kWh each year and electricity has become its fourth largest export. Due to its nuclear energy development, France has almost the lowest cost of electricity in Europe and very low CO2 emissions per capita from electricity generation. As of 1993, France’s nuclear power program has cost it about FF 400 billion.
[“French Nuclear Power.” "World Nuclear Association." April 2007. ] ]
France established a law in 2005 requiring that nuclear power be central to energy policy and security. Under this law, France would build a European Pressurized Water Reactor (EPR), also known as third-generation nuclear reactors, by 2015, of which it may decide to build forty more.
[ Each EPR reactor would produce 1,600 MW of electricity versus the 900 MW that current reactors produce. The EPR reactor was also recognized as safer and more efficient. [“France: Energy Profile.” "SperoNews." 8 June 2007. ] In August 2005, EDF announced that it wanted to replace all of its reactors with EPR reactors.]
EDF reprocesses approximately 850 of the 1,200 tons of used fuel each year. The reprocessed spent fuel is made into plutonium.
[ The plutonium is then converted into fresh mixed oxide (MOX) fuel, which is used in over 35 reactors across Europe. These reactors can load approximately 20-50% of their cores with the MOX fuel. [“Radioactive Waste Management.” "Australian Uranium Association." November 2007. ] ]
Public opinion concerning nuclear energy has remained positive in France. In Civaux, France, where a planned nuclear power plant was to be built, the people embraced the fact that their city was chosen as the site. Claude Mandil, the General Director for Energy and Raw Materials at the Minister of Industry , noted three primary reasons why the French people like nuclear power. First, the people of France enjoyed the independence from foreign energy. Second, they like large technological developments to occur in their country. Finally, the government instilled the benefits of nuclear energy into the people. [Palfreman, John, “Why the French Like Nuclear Energy.” "FrontLine." ]
In 1974, Germany had strong support for nuclear energy following the oil price shock of 1974. The first nuclear reactor was commissioned in 1975. However, after the Chernobyl accident in 1986, only one nuclear power plant was opened in 1989. In 1986, the government passed a resolution to abandon nuclear power within ten years. In 1990, when Germany was reunited, all Soviet built reactors were dismantled due to safety concerns. In 1998, the coalition government voted to begin phasing out nuclear energy. In the year 2001, an agreement was reached to limit operational lives of nuclear power plants to 31 years, which deferred any closures. Currently, Germany has 17 nuclear reactors that produce 20,339 MWe or one-third of the country’s energy needs. Siemens-KWU built all 17 of the reactors, six of which are boiling water reactors (BWR) and eleven are pressurized water reactors (PWR).
In the past, Germany mined uranium in mines around the country. However, all uranium is now imported from other countries. Thirteen of Germany’s reactors can use Mixed Oxide (MOX) fuel, which is imported from reprocessing countries. The Atomic Energy Act in 1976 made permanent disposal of spent fuel the responsibility of the federal government. Interim storage was still the responsibility of the utilities. Until 1994, utilities were required to reprocess and recycle spent but useable fuel. From 1994 to 1998, the federal government allowed for either direct disposal or reprocessing. Finally, after 1998, the government required direct disposal of all spent fuel. The permanent storage facility for spent fuel is located in the state of Lower Saxony, in a salt dome at Gorleben. The construction on the final repository will be complete by the year 2025. Finally, Germany will recover waste from past nuclear reprocessing and store it into the repository.
The provisional schedule for reactor shutdowns has already shutdown two reactors (2003 & 2005) and the last one closes in 2022. Currently the construction of any new nuclear power plants is prohibited and spent fuel must be stored on-site. Nonetheless, the utilities plan to extend the operating lives of the nuclear power plants to 60 years, much like in the United States. Furthermore, a Deutsche Bank report in January 2007 stated, “Germany will miss its carbon dioxide emission target by a wide margin, face higher electricity prices, suffer more blackouts, and dramatically increase its dependence on gas imports from Russia as a result of its nuclear phase-out policy.” The bank estimates that by 2022, 42 GWe of new generation capacity will need to be constructed if the phase out continues as scheduled. Moreover, in May 2007, the International Energy Agency warned Germany that phasing out its nuclear power would not allow it to meet its full limit on cutting carbon emissions and Germany could face other “adverse consequences.”
German public opinion strongly supports nuclear energy. In 1997, 81% of Germans wanted operations to continue at nuclear power plants, up from 64% in 1991. The majority of the citizens also believe nuclear energy will remain in wide use in Germany. In 2007, a poll found that 67% of Germans opposed the plan to phase out nuclear power plants.
The first Hungarian nuclear reactor was built at Csilleberc in 1959. Construction on the first commercial nuclear reactors began in 1975 after the oil crisis and the first was completed in 1982.
[“Hungary.” "Nuclear Energy Agency." 20 June 2007. < http://www.nea.fr/html/general/profiles/hungary.html#hist>] Currently, Hungary has four nuclear reactors with a net output capacity of 1,826 MWe. Originally, these plants had expected lives of 30 years; however, the Hungarian government decided to complete 20-year life extension projects on the reactors. The cost of these projects will amount to approximately $900 million but will also increase total capacity to 2,000 MWe. Hungary also had plans to build two more reactors with capacities of 950 MWe each but cancelled the plans due to decreased power demand in the early 1990s.] [“Nuclear Power in Hungary” "World Nuclear Association." July 2007. < http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf92.html>] ]
Hungary receives all of its fuel, uranium, from TVEL in Russia. Spent fuel normally is disposed without reprocessing, though there are instances of spent fuel sent to Russia for reprocessing. For the spent fuel that is not reprocessed, it is kept at the nuclear reactor site for five years in pools and then sent to dry storage. Additionally, in 2005 the residents of Bataapati, in the south of the country, approved construction plans for low and intermediate-level waste storage facility. Parliament approved this construction in November 2005. The costs of this construction will be covered by the Central Nuclear Financial Fund, the fund the nuclear power companies pay into.
Currently, plans do not exist for construction of a new nuclear power plant. Traditionally, the public has little input into nuclear power, outside the vote for the storage facility. The government of Hungary remains committed to nuclear power to serve its future electricity needs.
Italy has built several nuclear reactors from 1963-1990, but after Chernobyl, the country stopped all work on its nuclear program. Currently, the majority of Italy’s electricity is produced gas, oil, coal, and hydro. Italy also imports about 16% of its electricity need from France for 6.5 GWe, which makes it the world’s biggest importer of electricity. Due to its reliance on expensive fossil fuels and imports, Italians pay approximately 45% more than the EU average for electricity.
[“Emerging Nuclear Energy Countries.” "Australian Uranium Association." April 2008. ] ]
In 2004, a new Energy Law brought the possibility of joint ventures with foreign companies to build nuclear power plants and import electricity. Public opinion on nuclear power was positive, as Italy’s younger generations embraced nuclear energy. In 2005, Italy’s power company, ENEL made an agreement with Electricite de France for 200 MWe from a nuclear reactor in France and potentially an additional 1,000 MWe from new construction. As part of the agreement, ENEL received a 12.5% stake in the project and direct involvement in design, construction, and operation of the plants. In another move, ENEL also bought 66% of the Slovak Electric utility that operates six nuclear reactors. As part of this agreement, ENEL will pay the Slovak government EUR 1.6 billion to complete a nuclear power plant in Mochovce, which has a gross output of 942 MWe. With these agreements, Italy has managed to access nuclear power without placing reactors on Italian territory.
In 1978, began construction on two RBMK reactors (1,380 MWe net) with 30-year lives at Ignalina. The light-water, graphite-moderated reactors had a similar deign to those at Chernobyl. The nuclear power plant began operating in 1983, but the first reactor was decommissioned in 2004. Currently, Lithuania has one nuclear reactor that produces about 70% of its electricity or net MWe of 1,185. Decommissioning of the second reactor will occur in 2009. Originally, Lithuania built these reactors to export electricity to its neighbors, with 42% of electricity exported in 1989. This number fell through the 1990s as domestic demand increased.
[“Nuclear Power in Lithuania.” "World Nuclear Association." February 2008. < http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf109.html>] ]
In 1994, Lithuania accepted US$36.8 million from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development's Nuclear Safety Account to improve safety at the Ignalina site. Under the grant, both the reactors had to be closed within 15-20 years. Moreover, in order to join the EU, Lithuania had to decommission one reactor immediately and the second by 2009. The EU agreed to pay for decommissioning costs and some compensation through 2013. Strong public opposition followed, because electricity rates will rise 70% from 2007 to 2010 to cover the increased costs from reduced nuclear energy capabilities.
In 2006, Prime Ministers of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia signed a communiqué which invited state-owned energy companies in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia to invest in the design and construction of a new nuclear power plant in Lithuania to replace the two closed units at Ignalina.
title = Three Baltic states say "yes" to nuclear energy
journal = ENS News
publisher = European Nuclear Society
issue = 12
date = April 2006
accessdate =2008-07-31] The plant will cost around €6 billion, and most likely will have a capacity of 3,200 MWe. It will become operational after 2015.
The Radioactive Waste Management Agency, established in 2001, is responsible for disposal of all radioactive waste from the Ignalina plant during operation and decommissioning. A site near the plant has been identified for storage of low and intermediate-level waste. The government is in the process of building a permanent repository, which will be complete in 2015.
Currently produces the majority (95%) of its energy burning coal producing 32 GWe electricity. Poland also has the largest coal reserves in the EU at 14 billion tons. Poland has recognized that it needs nuclear energy in order to phase out ageing coal power plants, meet growing electricity demand (90% increase by 2025) and CO2 emissions standards.
In the 1980s, Poland had the Żarnowiec Nuclear Power Plant with four 440 MWe reactors under construction but due to post-Chernobyl disaster fears and lack of popular support the project was abandoned at a late stage. In 2005, the Polish cabinet decided to move away from emissions producing technologies and move towards nuclear power. In 2006, the new Prime Minster noted the need to build nuclear power plants and suggested the use of French Technology.
In 2006, a feasibility study found it optimal to build a nuclear power plant with an 11.5 GWe capacity, which was unaffordable in the immediate future. Therefore, Poland made the decision to build a 4.5 GWe nuclear power plant by 2030. In 2007, a draft energy policy proposed a 10 MWe nuclear capacity by 2030 to provide 10% of electricity.
[ The Polish government, in 2005, did not deem it feasible to have any nuclear power until at least 2020. Due to lack of expertise, they estimated ten years to for investment and construction and five years of public campaigning. [Latek, Stanislaw. “National Atomic Energy Agency: Nuclear News from Poland.” "Euronuclear." Spring 2005. ] ]
In July 2006, Poland joined Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia to build a new nuclear power plant to replace the Ignalina units being shut down due to pressure from the EU. Poland would invest 22% with these other countries into the project, which will be operational by 2015. The total costs of the project amounts to EUR 6 billion. Poland is guaranteed to have 1,200 MWe from the power plant and is in the process of upgrading transmission capacity between Lithuania and Poland.
In a public opinion poll, 60% of the population supported construction of a nuclear power plant in Poland to reduce its dependence on foreign sources of energy. Additionally, 48% supported construction of a nuclear power plant in their neighborhood, citing local benefits that include lower energy costs.
Late in the 1970s, the Romanian Government decided to build a five-unit nuclear power plant in Cernavoda. Romania decided to use Canadian technology and build heavy-water reactors. However, it only completed one unit that began operating in 1996. In May 2007, the second unit came onboard after significant financing from the EU and Canada of EUR 450 million. The two nuclear reactors produce about 20% of Romania’s electricity and net MWe of 1,310.
[“Nuclear Power in Romania.” "World Nuclear Association." March 2008. ] ]
In 2002 and 2006, Romania made efforts to complete unit 3 and 4, respectively. The cost estimate put completion of both reactors at EUR 2.5 billion, with seven companies investing into the project, including the state run Societatea Nationala Nuclearelectrica. The six other companies include ArcelorMittal, CEZ, Electrabel, ENEL, Iberdrola, and RWE. With investment from all these companies, unit 3 will be completed in 2014 and unit 4 in 2015. In March 2008, the Romanian government suggested that it might build another four-unit power plant by 2020. [“Nuclear Power in Romania.” "Australian Uranium Association." March 2008. ]
Currently, nuclear waste is stored at the reactors for up to ten years. Then the waste is transported to dry storage, which is based on the Macstor system designed by AECL. The government has conducted studies into a permanent geological repository.
In 1958, the Czechoslovak government built its first nuclear power plant – gas-cooled heavy water reactor – at Bohunice. Construction ended in 1972 when the plant became operational but the government shut down the plant in 1977 following a severe accident. Currently, Slovakia has five operational reactors, commissioned between 1980 and 1999. The net MWe is 2,064 and nuclear energy produces approximately 50% of the country’s electricity. Of the five reactors, the three older ones are scheduled for shutdown between 2008 and 2025. However, the government is committed to nuclear energy and two more reactors are under construction.
[“Nuclear Power in Slovakia.” "World Nuclear Association." February 2008. ] ]
Prior to acceptance into the EU, Slovakia had to shut down two of its older reactors, because they did not meet European standards. Slovakia spent significant amounts to achieve western standards, but the EU insisted on the shutdowns. The first plant closed in 2006 and the next is scheduled to close in 2008. The closure of these units, prior to the completion of two new reactors will leave the country short on power and Slovakia became an energy importer after the first plant was shut down.
The two new reactors have a net MWe of 840 and completion dates of 2012 and 2013. Italian ENEL purchased 66% of the state power company to help complete the reactors. Additionally, the government has floated the idea of building a fifth nuclear reactor by 2025, which would cost approximately EUR 3 billion.
Radioactive waste in Slovakia is disposed without reprocessing. The spent fuel stays at the reactor site; however, some spent fuel has been exported to Russia. Slovakia has also begun a search for a high-level waste repository and established a fund with approximately EUR 775 million to build it.
In 1964, Spain began construction on its first of three nuclear reactors and completed construction in 1968. This became the first commercial nuclear reactor. In the 1970s, Spain began construction on seven second generation reactors, but only completed five. In the 1980s, construction on third generation nuclear power reactors began but construction was only completed on three. Currently, Spain has eight nuclear reactors producing 20% of the country’s electricity or 7,442 net MWe. Spain imports approximately 2% of its energy from France but exports the same amount to Portugal.
[“Nuclear Power in Spain.” "World Nuclear Association." May 2007. ] ]
Spain has dismantled two nuclear reactors in the past 18 years. The first closed in 1990 due to a fire in a turbine and repairs were determined not economic. The second plant closed after 38 years of operations.
Spain currently stores nuclear waste at the reactor sites for ten years with no reprocessing. Plans for future storage include a temporary storage facility in Trillo, until the establishment of a longer-term storage facility.
Nuclear power in Spain is phased out. Recently, a spill of radioactive waste at the Asco I nuclear power plant in November 2007 and other accidents sparked protests. The country’s government has also pledged to shut down its eight nuclear reactors once wind and solar energy become viable alternatives. [Roberts, Martin. “Spain nuclear plant leak below legal limit: watchdog.” "Environmental News Network." 8 April 2008. ]
On particular windy days, wind power generation has surpassed all other electricity sources in Spain, including nuclear [ [http://www.lavanguardia.es/gen/20070321/51314068565/noticias/record-de-energia-eolica-por-el-vendaval-joan-clos.html Récord de energía eólica por el vendaval] ] .
Sweden began research into nuclear energy in 1947 with the establishment of the atomic energy research organization. In 1964, the country built its first small heavy water reactor. The country decided to use hydropower and supplement it with nuclear energy to avoid the volatility in oil prices. Six reactors began commercial service in both the 1970s and 1980s, with one unit closed in 1999 and another in 2005. Currently, Sweden has ten nuclear reactors, providing 9,016 net MWe or 50% of the country’s electricity. Traditionally, the country balances its exports (Finland) and imports (Norway) of electricity.
[“Nuclear Power in Sweden.” "World Nuclear Association." February 2008. ] ]
Due to political pressure, the two units at Barseback were shut down prematurely. Sweden is looking to increase the capacity of its reactors at Ringhals, increasing net MWe by 400. Moreover, in 2005, an up rate of 250 MWe to a reactor in Oskarshamn was approved. The total cost for these projects amounts to approximately EUR 400 million.
Sweden is one country that appears to have nuclear waste management well under control. Low-level waste is currently stored at the reactor sites or destroyed at Studsvik. The country has dedicated a ship to move waste from power plants to repositories. Sweden has also constructed a permanent underground repository with a capacity of 63,000 cubic meters for intermediate and low-level waste. The government has also identified two potential candidates for burial of additional waste (high-level), Oskarshamn and Osthammar.
Nuclear power seems popular in Sweden once again. However, in the past the popularity of nuclear power seemed questionable. In 1980 a referendum, three options were highlighted for closing the country’s nuclear plants but none for continuing it. Moreover, Sweden is the only country to tax nuclear energy – currently at EUR 0.67/kWh. The current political party in Sweden supports nuclear power. They have abandoned all plans on reactor shutdowns, increased reactor upgrades, and allowed for new reactor construction after 2010. In 2004, only 7% of the population considered the use of nuclear energy as an environmental problem compared to CO2 emissions and hydropower’s effect on rivers. In another poll, only 17% of the population supported a phase out of all nuclear power.
The first full-scale nuclear reactor in Europe opened in Calder Hall, located in Cumberland, United Kingdom on October 17, 1956. Calder Hall became the UK’s first commercial nuclear power reactor. At its peak, Calder Hall produced 196 MW of energy. Over the next ten years, nine more nuclear reactors were built across the United Kingdom. [“1956: Queen switches on nuclear power.” "BBC News." 17 October 1956. ] The UK has decommissioned 21 reactors since 1980. Recently, the UK privatized its nuclear energy industry but government oversight remains. Currently, the United Kingdom has 19 reactors generating 20% of the country’s electricity. All but one of them will be decommissioned by 2023 with new generation plants expected to be in operation by 2017. Currently, the reactors have a net capacity of 11,035 MWe.
[“Nuclear Power in the United Kingdom.” "World Nuclear Association." April 2008. ] ]
The UK plans to replace almost all of its current reactors with next generation nuclear power reactors. The current reactor lives could be extended if electricity demand merits their use. The primary purpose of nuclear energy in the UK is to lessen the green house gas emissions and maintaining energy security.
The UK waste management has been advised to forgo reprocessing spent fuel and instead to bury the waste into repositories. The government should also find a suitable location for burying the waste and provide incentives for nearby communities. The UK has also taken responsibility for its nuclear waste from civil and military activities. Finally, proper disposal of the decommissioned nuclear power plants is underway.
Public opinion as of late has moved to support nuclear energy. A poll in 2007 had 65% of the population supporting a new build of nuclear technologies. Most of parliament agrees that nuclear power is imperative for the UK to maintain its energy security and meet CO2 emissions standards.