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A new analysis from the World Watch Institute indicated that there is a global nuclear remission.

Nuclear Energy

Global Nuclear Power Generation Capacity Decreases

A new analysis from the World Watch Institute indicated that there is a global nuclear remission.

nuclear power

Nuclear power plant that uses gas pressurized reactors, hence the absence of cooling towers.

A new analysis from the World Watch Institute indicated that there is a global nuclear remission (opposite of resurgence) caused by the rising cost of nuclear power plants as well as the safety issues associated with them.

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster is part of the reason. Last year, nuclear power generation capacity attained a record high of 375.5 GW (375,500 MW), and this year, in March, the Fukushima Daiichi disaster in Japan (which was out of control for months) convinced many people that they are not prepared to effectively contain a nuclear disaster due to the failure of Japan to do so long.

This may be one of the main reasons why nuclear power generation capacity decreased to 366.5 GW (a 2.4% decrease) this year. The World Watch Institute attributed this decrease to a significant decline in the demand for nuclear power.

Most of the decline in installed nuclear power capacity is due to the halt of reactor construction.

There is the possibility that there may be another nuclear resurgence in the future, but that is not as likely to happen as the last nuclear resurgence because nuclear electricity has become much more expensive in the past 8 years. It doesn’t compete economically with cheaper and cheaper wind and solar energy (and natural gas, which is increasing in price but is still very cheap).

According MIT’s 2009 Nuclear Power Summary, the cost of nuclear electricity increased from $0.067/kWh in 2002 to $0.084/kWh in 2009 and most of the cost of nuclear electricity is actually due to the capital cost of the reactors, which has been increasing at an average rate of 15% per annum.

The cost of fuel (uranium) is high (normally greater than $50 per pound, and can exceed $100 per pound), but due to the fact that nuclear power plants consume very small volumes of it, that doesn’t matter as much.

h/t World Watch Institute (via email)
Photo Credit: Ernest W Adams

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