Nuclear power– looking ahead

Nuclear power’s share of global power production is likely to increase; countries view this option as an important contributor to their overall generation portfolios. The thirst for energy in both developed and developing regions is seemingly limitless. Meanwhile, many of the big consuming nations are seeking energy independence.

Nuclear power has traditionally been an important part of many utilities’ portfolios. It offers a reliable alternative to fossil fuel plants, providing base load power with little contribution to greenhouse gases.

Consequently, recent years have seen an upsurge in license applications to build new nuclear reactors.

Clearly, utilities will face challenges maintaining and increasing the role of the nuclear option. High costs of new build are one. The age of current facilities is another: over a third of existing reactors are over 30 years old.

Construction techniques have advanced, spurred by leaps in technology. And from construction to decommissioning, the regulatory landscape has changed.

Finally, as recent events underscore, managing risk must head the list of issues requiring close attention and meticulous planning. Historically, such events have yielded "lessons learned," new design requirements and procedural enhancements.

Accordingly, utilities’ paramount need is a portfolio-wide strategic approach. Thorough strategic planning helps all parties develop a clear understanding of the risks at each stage of the project life cycle and establish approaches to manage these risks. This is indispensable.