The EHRO-N team of JRC-IET provides the EC with essential data related to supply and demand for nuclear experts based on bottom-up information from the nuclear industry. The current paper deals with an alternative approach to derive figures for the demand side information of the nuclear workforce. Complementary to the bottom-up approach, a top-down modelling approach extrapolation of an EC Energy Roadmap nuclear energy demand scenario is followed here in addition to the survey information.
In this top-down modelling approach, the number of nuclear power plants that are in operation and under construction is derived as a function of time from 2010 up to 2050 assuming that the current reactor park will be replaced by generic third generation reactors of 1400 MWe or 1000 MWe. Depending on the size of new build reactors, the analysis shows the number of new reactors required to fulfil the demand for nuclear energy. Based on workforce models for operation and construction of nuclear power plants, the model allows an extrapolation of these respective workforces. Using the nuclear skills pyramid, the total workforce employed at a plant is broken down in a nuclear (experts), nuclearized, and nuclear aware workforce. With retirement profiles for nuclear power plants derived from the bottom-up EHRO-N survey, the replacement of the current workforce is taken into account.
The peak of the new workforce (partly replacing the retiring workforce and additionally keeping up with the growing total workforce demand) for nuclear experts and nuclearized employees is to be expected at the end of the considered period (2050). However, the peak workforce for nuclear aware employees is to be expected around 2020.
When comparing to historical data for the nuclear capacity being installed at the same time in Europe, it is clear that the expected future capacity to be installed at the same time in Europe is significantly lower (factor of 2) than in the early 1980’s. However, it should be realized that the skills demand might have been more relaxed in those days. Furthermore, a steep rise in construction is to be expected within 10 to 15 years. This is due to the fact that not only additional nuclear power plants need to be built to keep up with the growing nuclear energy demand, but also the current nuclear reactor park needs to be replaced. In order to deal with this steep rise, the nuclear industry may consider buying time by extending the lifetime of the current nuclear reactor park.