A rising demand for energy coupled with an increasing drive for switching over to cleaner methods of power generation is likely to bolster the market for nuclear power plant equipments in the future. With the onset of the nuclear renaissance, there is likely to be significant new capacity addition of nuclear power generation capacity globally. There are nearly 20 countries in the world utilizing nuclear power, with about 10 countries aggressively pursuing nuclear generation as an integral part of their generation mix. After the Fukishima disaster in Japan, the global nuclear power plant equipments market is likely to face uncertainty in terms of demand from certain nations. On one hand, the disaster in Japan might trigger negative sentiments regarding use of nuclear energy leading to slowdown in adoption and commissioning of plants.
However on the other hand, the event might also trigger decommissioning of old plants and subsequent installation of new nuclear power plants with better technologies and multiple redundant safety backups. In the event of new capacity being added to replace older plants, there is likely to be a higher demand for nuclear power plant equipments. Overall, nuclear power plants are fully capable of providing very high load and availability factors giving steady base load generation. With very low emissions and generating costs at par with coal fired plants, nuclear energy is likely to be adopted with much gusto in the future. One of the major equipments for nuclear power plants is the reactors. There are various types of reactors currently in operation with the two most common ones being boiling water reactors (BWR) and pressurized water reactors (PWR).
Apart from these, other forms of reactors such as CANDU reactors are also being deployed. One of the most important parts of a nuclear power plant is the fuel assemblies. Nuclear fuel comprises of fuel rods which are arranged together in the form of fuel assemblies, and contains fissile elements capable of sustaining a nuclear fission reaction. Some of the nuclear fuels being used today around the world include Uranium-235 and Plutonium -239. Very large fuel assemblies are required to power large nuclear reactors. A pressurized water reactor (PWR) might require 13 feet high individual fuel assemblies with nearly 264 fuel rods present within.
Other equipments required include the internal piping mechanisms and enclosures. Owing to the radiation risk, nuclear reactors need to be adequately shielded using lead, steel and concrete. Turbines are also a vital part of any nuclear power plant. Since nuclear power plants generally require economies of scale to generate power at economical and cost competitive rates, large turbines are likely to be in demand in the future. Other vital components of a nuclear power plant include heat exchanger systems, which are mostly installed in a closed loop form. Owing to the radiation risk, there are generally three kinds of heat transfer fluids circulating inside the plant, which generally require advanced heat exchanging systems. Other important equipments include the control rod assembly which is essential to control the rate of nuclear fission. Without the control rods there is a risk of an uncontrolled chain reaction ultimately resulting in an explosion. Overall the nuclear power plant equipments market is likely to be the most attractive in the Asia-Pacific and Europe.
Some of the major players in the nuclear power plant equipments market include Dongfang Electric Corporation Ltd, Larsen & Toubro Ltd, Alstom SA and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd among others.
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