Global Nuclear Reactor Database Developed by NRDC
Posted March 15, 2013
Today NRDC’s Nuclear Program is releasing their web-based nuclear energy analysis tool: the Global Nuclear Reactor Database. We developed this reactor database as means for researchers and visitors to our website to get rapid answers to some interesting questions regarding nuclear power, such as the number of reactors and their capacity, forecasts of nuclear electricity generation and fuel requirements, and regarding Climate Change, the carbon emissions offsets offered by nuclear power. All of these quantities can be charted for individual countries, regions, or for the globe. The web tool can also serve as a directory of nuclear power facilities contained in the database, with the ability to map the results of a search and learn more information about individual plants.
Our database compiles the current, planned, and proposed nuclear activities of states, utilities and energy companies, and then we compute what this data predicts about the future of nuclear power. We rely on data for operational reactors, reactors under construction, and announced plans to build new reactors—both firm plans and less-certain proposals—for understanding future nuclear capacity, reactor by reactor. NRDC has created this database and web-based tool using information from the World Nuclear Association (WNA), the International Energy Agency World Energy Outlook, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and other sources. Historical data in NRDC’s Global Nuclear Reactor Database was obtained from the Power Reactor Information System (PRIS) provided by the IAEA.
Our team has internally maintained these data resources and calculations in a Microsoft Access database over the last several years and, therefore, this website developed out of a desire to share this information with anyone conducting research, whether they’re an energy policy student, a reporter covering the industry, or a passing visitor to our website curious about nuclear power developments in their region. Let’s take a look at an example of how the database can provide useful information about recent trends in the nuclear industry. If we examine Germany’s activity from 1980 to 2030, we see that the country operated the most reactors in the late 1980s, reaching a maximum of 26, as well as evidence of Germany’s decision to immediately phase out 8 boiling water reactors in 2011 following the Fukushima disaster and achieve permanent shutdown for all reactors by 2023.
Regarding the swift decision over the nuclear phase-out, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated “As the first big industrialized nation, we can achieve such a transformation toward efficient and renewable energies, with all the opportunities that brings for exports, developing new technologies and jobs.”[i]
Taking a different approach, China is investing heavily in new nuclear construction and is expected to grow dramatically over the same time period. Starting with just a handful of reactors in the mid-1990s, the country plans to build 95 reactors by 2023 with 45 of those either being currently in operation or officially under construction. The remaining 50 reactors are in the “planned” category so their forecast is somewhat less certain, but given China’s recent activities it is safe to assume that substantial portion of these are likely to be built.
Another useful feature of the Global Nuclear Reactor Database is the availability of the data to be exported and saved by a user for further analysis offline. The data comes in a comma-separated value (CSV) format and includes all the information that is available to the user in the drop-down boxes that are viewable in the reactor list generated from a search on either the main page or the Reactor Lookup page. We’re excited to finally release this great tool and hope that it proves to be useful in both our work as well as yours. The team here at NRDC maintains the data through updates made about once a month, or more often as we see the need, and we are still in the process of tinkering with the data and the way the website operates. We encourage you to visit the site and explore all the features as we continue to update and to improve NRDC’s Global Nuclear Reactor Database.
[i] Baetz, Juergen (30 May 2011). "Germany Decides to Abandon Nuclear Power by 2022". Associated Press.