Life Extension of Nuclear Power Plants: World Situation and the USA Case
Life extension of Nuclear Power Plants above 40 years of operation is an important issue in many countries. The Kyoto limits for CO2 emissions, the security of supply, the costs and predictability of renewable energy, etc., are putting nuclear energy in the agenda of many countries all around the world.
The delay, due to the economic crisis, of the new nuclear projects in many countries, pushes governments to continue operation of nuclear plants above the 40 years design life. This is the case in the USA, where 59 units have obtained the extension of operation license from 40 to 60 years, and currently 19 units are in the reviewing process. The life extension of these plants permits savings in CO2 emissions and in the consumption of additional amounts of fossil fuels.
In this paper, the position of the different nuclear countries about the Extension of Life will be reviewed, with a special emphasis on the situation in the USA. In this last case, the NRC approach for operation licenses above 40 years will be explained, and actions taken by nuclear companies in the country will be reviewed. In this country, the debate about life extension over 40 years has been surpassed, and the new technical discussion focuses on the operation of nuclear power plants above 60 years.
© SFEN 2010