Four new nuclear reactors were connected to the grid in 2013 and four were permanently shut down, bringing the total number of reactors in operation around the world to 437, with an installed capacity of 373 GW (net). Construction began on ten units, bringing the number of reactors under construction to 72.
Four grid connections
The four reactors that started operation in 2014 were all in Asia: Hongyanhe 1&2 and Yangjiang 1 in China and Kudankulam 1 in India.
Hongyanhe 1&2, in northeasterly Liaoning province, were connected to the grid on 18 February and 23 November, respectively. On the other side of the country, Yangjiang 1, in southerly Guangdong province, was connected on 31 December. Unit 2 of China's Ningde nuclear power plant in Fujian province also achieved criticality on 20 December 2013. All of these units are the 1000 MWe (1080 MWgross) domestic CPR-1000 reactor design.
The 1000 MW Russian-designed VVER-1000 Kudankulam 1 in India also achieved first criticality in July 2013, and was connected to the grid on 22 October 2013.
Four reactor closures
For various reasons, ranging from market conditions to technical issues, four nuclear reactors closed in the United States in 2013.
Crystal River 3 was permanently shutdown in February 2013, due to uncertainty over repair costs to the concrete containment. The unit had not operated since 2009 due to the problem.
Similarly units 2&3 of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in California were retired on 7 June, due to steam generator issues. Utility SCE said it would be 'uneconomic' to bear the long-term repair costs given the regulatory uncertainty surrounding the restart of the units.
Dominion also decided to decommission its 556 MW Kewaunee station in Wisconsin, but this time the decision was based purely on economic factors. Kewaunee ceased operation on 7 May 2013.
Ten construction starts
Construction began on ten new nuclear reactors in 2013, including the first new nuclear power plant in Belarus. Other units started construction in the US, China Korea and the United Arab Emirates. Seven reactors began construction in 2012, with four in 2011.
In March, the United States began building its first nuclear power plant since St Lucie in 1977 when first concrete was poured for a Westinghouse AP1000 reactor - Summer 2 - at the existing nuclear plant site in South Carolina. This milestone was followed a few days later with first nuclear concrete for an AP1000 at Vogtle 3 in Georgia, and the start of construction at Summer 3 and Vogtle 4 in November 2013. Five reactors are now under construction in the US, four AP1000s, plus Watts Bar unit 2, a four-loop pressurized water reactor.
In May, Barakah 2 became the second reactor to start construction in the United Arab Emirates. Barakah 2, a 1400 MW Korean-designed APR-1400 is expected to begin operation in 2018, following Barakah 1 in 2017.
Korea also started building a domestic APR-14000 pressurized water reactor, Shin-Hanul 2, on 19 June. The unit, previously known as Shin-Ulchin 2, was renamed in May following calls from local residents. The Ulchin nuclear plant was renamed Hanual and the Yonggwang plant Hanbit.
November saw Belarus become the first newcomer country in Europe in over three decades, after first nuclear concrete was poured for a Russian-designed AES-2006 nuclear power plant at Ostrovets.
China started building three new units in 2013: its first two ACPR-1000s reactors Yangjiang 5 (18 September) and Yangjiang 6 (23 December), as well as a VVER-1000, Tianwan 4 on 27 September.
Photo: Construction at the Barakah site in the UAE in 2013 (Source: ENEC)