How fast can we build nuclear?

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A claim often made by opponents of nuclear energy is that it takes too long to build nuclear power stations. How quickly can we build them, and how does the speed of building nuclear compare with how fast we can build wind and solar?

The second question is addressed in How fast can we build clean energy?

See also Economics of nuclear energy

How long does it take to build a nuclear power plant?

In a blog article[1], Euan Mearns examines data for 441 reactors, finding that

  • 374 out of 441 reactors were built in 10 or less than 10 years. There is a tail of 15% that have taken longer to build.
  • 18 reactors were completed in 3 years! 12 of those in Japan, 3 in the USA, 2 in Russia and 1 in Switzerland. These are a mixture of boiling water and pressurised water reactors.
  • The mean construction time of 441 reactors in use today was 7.5 years.

A peer-reveiwed (but paywalled) statistical analysis of the construction duration of nuclear power plants, by Paul W.Thurner et al[2], finds that "time of connection to grid increases over the years indicating increased societal sensibilities, respect for higher security standards, and increased project complexities".


References

  1. Euan Mearns, "How long does it take to build a nuclear power plant?" (Energy Matters, 27 Jul 2016)
  2. Paul W.Thurner et al, "How long does it take to build a nuclear power plant? A non-parametric event history approach with P-splines" (Energy Policy, July 2014)