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An increase in the number of renewable energy sources and safety concerns have prompted more countries to move away from nuclear energy, fuelling a market to decommission nuclear power plants.

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  • Around 110 commercial power reactors, 48 prototype reactors, more than 250 research reactors, and numerous fuel cycle facilities were out of operation by September 2017, according to several estimates.
  • In the US, which has the highest number of nuclear power plants (99), has already decommissioned 10 power plants while 20 are under decommissioning.
  • European Union countries are leading in this withdrawal from nuclear energy sources.
  • Some 76 nuclear reactors will be retired globally between 2015 and 2019, 183 units in the 2020s and 127 units in the 2030s. In Europe, the nuclear-decommissioning services market is expected to grow at 29.57 percent during 2018-2022.
    • Germany and France have already put in place nuclear energy phase-out plans.
    • France will close down 17 nuclear power stations by 2025.
  • The process to decommission them is long — plant components have to be dismantled and disposed of safely.
  • India is yet to start decommissioning nuclear plants even when there is a guideline to do so by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board.
    • The Nuclear Power Corp of India Ltd (NCPI), India’s sole nuclear energy producer, already collects “decommissioning levy” from users to create a fund to finance decommission activities in the future. This fund is managed by the Department of Atomic Energy.
    • The 2017-18 annual NCPI report mentioned that the decommission levy fund has at least Rs 1,975 crore.
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