The World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2010-2011: Nuclear Power in a Post-Fukushima World

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Mycle Schneider | April 2011

Even before the disaster in Fukushima, the world’s nuclear industry was in clear decline, according to a new report from the Worldwatch Institute. The report, which Worldwatch commissioned months before the Fukushima crisis began, paints a bleak picture of an aging industry unable to keep pace with its renewable energy competitors.

Some of the report’s key findings include:

  • Annual renewable capacity additions have been outpacing nuclear start-ups for 15 years. In the United States, the share of renewables in new capacity additions skyrocketed from 2 percent in 2004 to 55 percent in 2009, with no new nuclear capacity added.
  • In 2010, for the first time, worldwide cumulative installed capacity from wind turbines, biomass, waste-to-energy, and solar power surpassed installed nuclear capacity. Meanwhile, total investment in renewable energy technologies was estimated at $243 billion in 2010.
  • As of April 1, 2011, there were 437 nuclear reactors operating in the world, seven fewer than in 2002. In 2008, for the first time since the beginning of the nuclear age, no new unit was started up. Seven new reactors were added in 2009 and 2010, while 11 were shut down during this period.
  • In 2009, nuclear power plants generated 2,558 Terawatt-hours of electricity, about 2 percent less than the previous year. The industry’s lobby organization headlined “another drop in nuclear generation”—the fourth year in a row.

Despite predictions in the United States and elsewhere of a nuclear “renaissance,” the report concludes that the role of nuclear power was in steady decline even before the Fukushima crisis. The disaster will make the construction of new nuclear plants and extensions to the lifetime of current plants even more unrealistic.

About Mycle Schneider:

Mycle Schneider is an independent international consultant on energy and nuclear policy based in Paris. He founded the Energy Information Agency WISE-Paris in 1983 and directed it until 2003. Since 1997 he has provided information and consulting services to the Belgian Energy Minister, the French and German Environment Ministries, USAID, the International Atomic Energy Agency, Greenpeace, the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, the Worldwide Fund for Nature, the European Commission, the European Parliament's General Directorate for Research, and the French Institute for Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety. He is a member of the Princeton University based International Panel on Fissile Materials (IPFM).  In 1997, along with Japan's Jinzaburo Takagi, he received the Right Livelihood Award, also known as the “Alternative Nobel Prize.”