A third of Nuclear Reactors are going to die of old age in the next 10-20 years

Number of operating reactors by age (as of June 26, 2007). Age is determined by first grid connection. Source: IAEA power reactor information system

70% of reactors are over 25 years old, 23% are over 35 years old, so within 10 to 20 years about a third will have to be decommissioned, far more than the 63 under constructionSome are bound to fail as they age, making the future of nuclear power even less certain.

And where will the waste go?

The U.S. depends on nuclear power plants built with designs from the 1950s that have known flaws.

Worse yet, the U.S. has 23 reactors with the same design as those in Fukushima Japan that melted down after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

In both old and more recent plants, the components face a daily load of high temperatures, pressures, vibration and bombarding neutrons, which can render thick steel walls so brittle that cracks form at welds and joints (Biello).

Biello, D. Feb 7, 2015. Sorry State: U.S.’s Nuclear Reactor Fleet Dwindles. Scientific American.


Number of operating reactors by age (as of June 26, 2007). Age is determined by first grid connection. Source: IAEA power reactor information system

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7 Responses to A third of Nuclear Reactors are going to die of old age in the next 10-20 years

  1. Bill Chaffee says:

    Are antinuclear activists trying engineer the deaths of billions of people? That is what’s going to happen if nothing is found to replace hydrocarbons. There needs to be an all out effort to develop forth generation reactors. Otherwise world population is likely to collapse to preindustrial levels.

  2. energyskeptic says:

    I am not for or against nuclear power, I just don’t see how electricity solves any problems – we can’t electrify freight transportation. 80% of communities depend on trucks for 100% of their goods, and there’s no such thing as an electric truck, and we’re not going to put overhead wires on 4 million miles of roads, or over every corn field. We need electric mining trucks, electric cranes, electric road construction, electric cement making, electric tractors, electric harvesters, and so on. These freight vehicles and locomotives are too heavy to run on batteries which are hundreds of times less energy dense than oil per kg. See my posts on batteries, transportation, and so on for details.

    And do pro-nuclear enthusiasts plan to kill everyone by leaving the radioactive waste outside of each nuclear power plant to poison air, land, and water or tempt future warlords for tens of thousands of years to make dirty bombs with? To me not using the oil we have now to bury this waste is one of the worst, most irresponsible ways we’re leaving a toxic planet to our grand children, who have no one to speak for them.

    • H Luce says:

      The way things used to be done in the US, before internal combustion engines were in common use, was to use railroads for inter- and some intracity movement of passengers and freight; the Kansas City Terminal Railroad is one local example of intracity rail transport. It’s pretty easy to run electric trains, the technology is old and well-characterised. As for non-rail intracity transport of freight, electric trucks were widely used. (http://blogsdir.cms.rrcdn.com/10/files/2012/08/old-UPS-truckUntitled-1.jpg) On farms, steam-powered tractors were used – see http://tractors.wikia.com/wiki/Traction_engine, and mines have used electric-powered transport for over 100 years. And my grandmother’s first car, in 1912, was electric powered. Cheap oil derailed electricity, and now that oil is not so cheap any more, electricity will stage a comeback.

      • energyskeptic says:

        Steam power? There go the forests, just like they did last time, when something like 90% of forests east of the Mississippi disappeared in locomotives, steamships, factories, homes, etc. Steam power is terribly inefficient, about 5%, though perhaps today with modern metallurgy and knowledge up to — wild optimistic guess — 20-25%.
        Many states have so little wood that they’d use it ALL UP IN LESS THAN A YEAR if forests become a source of energy in the future due to depletion of fossil fuels and blackouts most of the time: Nate Hagens. July 11, 2007. Old Sunlight vs Ancient Sunlight -An Analysis of Home Heating and Wood. http://www.theoildrum.com/node/2683

        Electric trucks were not widely used, ever.

        Most mining TRUCKS that dig and haul ore are not electric. The few that are use catenary wires overhead at really big mines with their own power plants.

        Batteries haven’t worked out for cars yet, never will for trucks because they’re too heavy for the truck to move and take up all the cargo space, trains have tried 126 times to use battery powered locomotives and failed.
        I have many articles about this at my website with citations and more information.

  3. Bill Chaffee says:

    Sorry, a motor handicap prevented me from making a post long enough to elaborate on my views. I have been influenced by the website atomic insights. Artificial hydrocarbons would be need for transportation (hopefully carbon neutral). I don’t see renewables supporting a population of the present size.

  4. Bill Chaffee says:

    I agree that yucca mountain should have been licensed. Reactors that use used fuel as an energy source are still theoretical until they are actually built.

  5. Bill Chaffee says:

    I wonder if Yucca mountain would have been more politically palatable if another repository further east had been built. Did Harry Reid say anything about that?