Long-term nuclear operations expected to expand, finds OECD-NEA report

Report cover: Long-Term Operation of Nuclear Power Plants and Decarbonisation Strategies
Image: Nuclear Energy Agency

The OECD-NEA reports more than 100 nuclear reactors worldwide were operating past their licensed periods, with more reactors expected to follow as long-term operations are an effective way to avoid emissions and manage decarbonization.

SEP. 21, 2021 – The Nuclear Energy Agency’s (OECD-NEA) recent report describes the efficacy of nuclear power plants’ long-term operation (LTO) in terms of sustainability, carbon management, and affordability.

According to the report, more than 100 nuclear reactors worldwide were operating beyond their initial life expectancy as of the end of 2020. The role of LTO is expected to expand in the next decade as nuclear operators build on the experience of older plants and more countries are committed to carbon emission reduction targets.

The report finds that LTO is not a decarbonization tool, but it does effectively manage carbon emissions as nuclear power could save up to 2.9 gigatonnes of CO2 annually. Still, around 40 per cent of those emissions could vanish without LTO efforts.

Click here to read the full report.

In Canada, mid-life refurbishment and major component replacements have extended the operation of reactors at the Darlington Nuclear station, the Bruce Power station and at New Brunswick Power’s Point Lepreau station. As well, the Pickering A Units 1 and 4 restart projects, which included safety modernization and component replacements extended the lifetime of those units. At Pickering B, the four units benefitted from inspection and maintenance management that have demonstrated the plant’s continued fitness for duty beyond the original design basis.