Load factors to end December 2001

3 May 2002

The end of the year finds the nuclear power industry around the world still quietly providing a high quality of electricity supply without the production of greenhouse gases. Rumours of energy departments of various national governments suggesting publicly that they are moving towards the unthinkable - starting new nuclear projects - have been cropping up recently, and, while we are not holding our breath, this was unthinkable a year ago.

However, the reputation of the nuclear industry itself is still being let down by a few of its members. These are either demoralised by an attitude, possibly arising from the long-standing bad public perception of the industry, that the effort is not worth it (from their standpoint), or they are deeply suspicious of the wider movement towards openness of information. For whatever reason, they end up assuming that information that is readily available from about 96 per cent of all the world's nuclear units has, in the last year or two, become top secret for their particular unit. While essentially a "trade and technical" publication, Nuclear Engineering International, and some of the other publications in this area, provide the good as well as the bad news in a way that even the science correspondents in the press at large can understand. (Indeed, Nuclear Engineering International has been the training ground for many of them!). When nuclear power is being debated in the popular media, the most frequent participants are Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, or other dedicated anti-nuclear organisations on one hand, and various seemingly unbriefed politicians struggling to counter the opponents' often outrageously unsupported arguments on the other hand.

This quarter's "not availables" are all stations in the USA: Fitzpatrick, Limerick, Prairie Island, River Bend, Susquehanna and Three Mile Island. Considering that the US boasts six out of the top ten in our table, and half of the top twenty, they might be able to confirm and further enhance an important contribution to the reputation of this industry, especially in their own country. This would be to the general benefit of the industry, and its shareholders.

It is remarkable that nine of the top ten units achieved over 100 per cent capacity factors, and that Spain provides the only European country to manage to break into the US/Japanese/Korean domination of the top twenty. Finland was next, managing to come in at number 27. In lifetime terms the story is a little different. Only six of the top 20 are not European units, and only one of the six is from the USA and the other five are Korean. The same three German units that have been top of cumulative performance, and in the same order, for the six years preceding the figures presented here. Congratulations!

Top ten electricity generators as of end December 2001
Top ten by lifetime performance to end December 2001
Country averages as at end December 2001
Table 2. Units operating for one year or under

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