Nuclear

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Nuclear power is an interesting facet of energy dynamics in terms of both global relations and its growth potential as a vital energy resource in the future. The nuclear fuel cycle is illustrated in figure 6.8. It is important to point out that the process of nuclear fuel production and the construction of reactors can be cost prohibitive. The main limiting step in this process for many countries is the ability to enrich uranium. Producing nuclear fuel is often tainted with the concern that countries will also attempt the production of nuclear weapons. Once a country has established a viable nuclear fuel cycle, the operation of a generating facility pays off. It is cheap to produce electricity because nuclear fuel contains more potential energy per unit mass than any of the fossil fuels. Another positive aspect is that nuclear power plants do not release greenhouse gases. However, the nuclear cycle incorporates other waste issues, most notably the large mill tailing piles resulting from uranium fuel processing and the radioactive waste produced from spent fuel rods.

In 2004, nuclear energy accounted for 6 percent of the total energy used worldwide (see figure 6.2). According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), there are thirty-one countries that produce nuclear power, operating a total of 442 commercial reactors. These countries are listed in table 6.8, which details the number of reactors currently operating in each country, the electric capacity of the generating units of these reactors, and the net electric power generated in 2005.

Figure 6.9 breaks down nuclear electricity generation by region. This pie chart shows that of the seven world regions, only four of them produce a sizeable amount of nuclear energy. South Africa is the only country in the region of Africa that produces electricity, and only two countries, Brazil and Argentina, have nuclear capabilities in Central and South America.

Electricity Generation

World nuclear power generation (2004)3: 2.62 trillion kWh

Nuclear

Uranium Ore

Global Total Recoverable Reserves:1 4.59 million tons Uranium (based on a recovery cost of less than $130 U.S. per kg U)

Fuel Fabrication

Pellets of enriched UF6 are packed into fuel rod

Mining

Open Pit Underground In-Situ Leach

Milling

Crushes and ri impurities from U ore, produces Yellowcake

—► Mill Tailings: Over 99 percent of mined material

Uranium Enrichment

Increases the amount of U-235 relative to U-238 isotopes

Conversion to

Uranium Hexa fluoride

^ Depleted Uranium used for armor plates and warheads

Electricity Generation

World nuclear power generation (2004)3: 2.62 trillion kWh

Uranium Reprocessing

Spent fuel rods can be sent to recycle unused fissionable material to create new reactor fuel

Spent Fuel to Radioactive Waste Storage

Sources: 1. H. Holger Rogner, 2004, "Uranium," in 2004 Survey of Energy Resources (Oxford, England: Elsevier), 157. 2. E. Willard Miller and Ruby M. Miller, 1993, Energy and American Society (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO), 43. 3. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), 2006, "Operational and Long-Term Shutdown Reactors by Country," Power Reactor Information System (PRIS), http://www.iaea.org/programmes/a2/. Accessed November 2, 2006.

Net Nuclear Net Nuclear Power

Number of Nuclear Electric Power Generation Number of Nuclear Electric Generation (billion kWh)

Net Nuclear Net Nuclear Power

Number of Nuclear Electric Power Generation Number of Nuclear Electric Generation (billion kWh)

Country Nu

clear Reactors1

Capacity (MW(e))1

(billion kWh) (2004)2

Country

Nuclear Reactors1

Capacity (MW(e))1

(2004)2

United States

103

98,145

788.53

Switzerland

5

3,220

25.61

France

59

63,363

425.83

Bulgaria

4

2,722

15.60

Japan

55

47,593

271.58

Finland

4

2,676

21.55

Russia

31

21,743

137.47

Slovakia

6

2,442

16.18

Germany

17

20,339

158.97

Brazil

2

1,901

11.60

Korea, South

20

16,810

124.18

South Africa

2

1,800

14.28

Ukraine

15

13,107

82.69

Hungary

4

1,755

11.32

Canada

18

12,584

85.87

Mexico

2

1,360

8.73

United Kingdom

23

11,852

73.68

Lithuania

1

1,185

14.35

Sweden

10

8,916

73.43

Argentina

2

935

7.31

China

10

7,587

47.95

Slovenia

1

656

5.21

Spain

8

7,450

60.43

Romania

1

655

5.27

m

Belgium

7

5,801

45.80

Netherlands

1

450

3.63

CD

Taiwan

6

4,884

37.94

Pakistan

2

425

1.93

CO -<

India

16

3,483

15.04

Armenia

1

376

2.21

CD

Czech Republic

6

3,373

25.01

O <=

Total

442

369,588

2,619.18

CO

Sources: 1. International Atomic Energy Agency, 2006, "Operational and Long-Term Shutdown Reactors by Country," Power Reactor Information System (PRIS), http://www.iaea.org/programmes/a2/.

2. Energy Information Administration (EIA), "International Electricity Data, Net Nuclear Power Generation," International Energy Annual 2004, http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/international/ electricitygeneration.html. Accessed November 2, 2006.

Asia and Oceania 19%

Middle East 0%

Africa 1%

Eurasia

Total World Generation:

2,619.2 billion kilowatt-hours

Asia and Oceania 19%

Middle East 0%

Africa 1%

Eurasia

Total World Generation:

2,619.2 billion kilowatt-hours

North America

Central and South America 1%

Europe

North America

Central and South America 1%

Europe

Source: Energy Information Administration (EIA), 2004, "International Electricity Data, Net Nuclear Power Generation," International Energy Annual 2004, http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/international/ electricitygeneration.html. Accessed November 2, 2006.

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