Chennai, Nov 24 (IANS) China and South Korea have the most supportive nuclear energy policies with significant new atomic power projects in both the nations, global credit rating agency Moody’s Investors Service (MIS) said Monday.
The low gas prices in the US and the push towards renewable energy in the Europe have slowed down nuclear power in these regions, MIS said in a statement.
In addition, Japan has been supportive of restarting some of the country’s nuclear reactors, despite public opposition since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident.
“Despite government support for nuclear generation in most major economies, low prices for natural gas have put nuclear power in a less competitive position,” Patrick Mispagel, a Moody’s associate managing director was quoted as saying in the statement.
“As a result, nuclear generation is growing only in a few major markets, most notably China and South Korea,” he added.
Mispagel was speaking on the release of a new Moody’s report, titled “Global Nuclear Generation Prospects Power Up in Asia But Power Down Elsewhere”.
The report examines the prospects for nuclear generation in seven markets — China, South Korea, Japan, the US, Britain, France and Germany — and the effect of nuclear generation on the credit quality of the utilities operating within them.
Moody’s report notes that while most of these countries support nuclear energy, Germany is taking an aggressive stance against nuclear power with the gradual phase-out of its reactors.
In addition, low natural gas prices in the US and the push toward renewable energy in Europe are slowing down nuclear expansion in these regions, the statement said.
Only in some of the major Asian countries, such as China and South Korea, where natural-gas prices are relatively high, is new nuclear generation being pursued to a significant degree against a backdrop of strong demand for electricity.
In China, China General Nuclear Power Corporation, and China National Nuclear Corporation are constructing a large number of new nuclear units that will dramatically increase the country’s nuclear generation output, which today stands at about two of China’s total energy mix.
Meanwhile, the government of South Korea has targeted a more modest increase in nuclear generation.
In Japan, the shutdown of all nuclear reactors following the Fukushima accident in 2011 has led to the most dramatic drop in nuclear generation output, MIS said.
According to MIS, nuclear power output in Japan fell from 29 percent of total power generation in 2010 to just under 2 percent in 2013 and to zero now, with all nuclear reactors currently out of service.
As a result, the country’s utilities have higher fuel costs, given their increased reliance on natural gas, oil and coal to generate electricity, leading to substantial operating losses.