New research suggests that growing demand for electricity and high costs associated with new build nuclear are directing the way nuclear plants are being maintained. A report by energy intelligence company GlobalData claims various countries are increasingly investing in Plant Life Extension (PLEX) and Plant Life Management (PLIM) methods for ensuring extended operation.
According to the research, global demand for power is one of the main reasons for adapting plants rather than building new ones. Between 2000 and 2010 electricity consumption grew from 13m GWh to 18.4m GWh. Consumption for 2012 to 2020 is expected to grow at a compound growth rate of 4%, increasing from 20.1m GWh to 27.5m GWh.
GlobalData say the capital cost of plant life management for a long-term operation is lower in comparison to investment in replacement capacity, making PLEX and PLIM more attractive to some stakeholders.
Currently the North American market for PLEX is valued at $42.7 billion (£26.4bn), compared to European nuclear heavyweight France’s market valued at $10bn (£6.19bn). The Nuclear Regulatory Commission in the States has approved license renewals for 71 reactors, with 15 currently under review and a further 17 more license applications expected up until 2020.