The International Atomic Energy Agency last week released its annual nuclear power status data, collected by the Power Reactor Information System (PRIS), the agency’s publicly available nuclear power database.
According to the IAEA’s data summary, nuclear power in 2020 played an important role as an adaptable and reliable supplier of electricity during the pandemic.
- “Restrictions on economic and social activity during the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020 led to an unprecedented and sustained decline in demand for electricity in many countries, at 10 percent or more, compared to 2019 levels,” the summary states. “This created challenges for both electricity generators and system operators. Low-carbon electricity prevailed with the increasing contribution of renewable electricity, and nuclear power generation proved to be resilient, reliable, and adaptable. The flexibility of nuclear power demonstrated how it can support the clean energy transition.”
Sampling the data: Among the summary’s 2020 data points are the following:
- Global operating nuclear power capacity was 392.6 GWe from 442 operational reactors in 32 countries.
- Overall, nuclear capacity since 2011 has gradually increased, including some 23.7 GWe added by the connection of new units to the grid and upgrades to existing reactors.
- Nuclear power reactors supplied 2,553.2 TWh of low-emission and dispatchable electricity, accounting for about 10 percent of total global electricity generation and almost one third of the world’s low-carbon electricity generation.
- Nuclear power production was slightly lower compared to 2019’s 2,657.1 TWh. Since 2012, however, there has been an increase of more than 8 percent.
- Five new pressurized water reactors with 5.5 GWe of nuclear capacity were connected to the grid.
- Over 44 percent of new capacity, equating to more than 2.4 GWe, was added by two countries with no previous nuclear power operating experience: Belarusian 1 (1,110 MWe) in Belarus and Barakah-1 (1,345 MWe) in the United Arab Emirates.
- At the end of the year, 52 reactors with over 54.4 GWe of capacity were under construction in 19 countries, including in two countries building their first power reactors.
- The global median capacity factor was 84.6 percent, in line with the load factor in recent years.