News / Science & Technology

Global Nuclear Power Contribution Falls to Lowest Level Since 80s

FILE - Members of the media and Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) employees walk down the steps of a fuel handling machine on the spent fuel pool inside the No. 4 reactor building at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture, November 7, 2013.
FILE - Members of the media and Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) employees walk down the steps of a fuel handling machine on the spent fuel pool inside the No. 4 reactor building at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture, November 7, 2013.
Reuters

Atomic power's share of global electricity supply is at the lowest level since the 1980s following the shutdown of Japan's reactors after the Fukushima disaster, and may fall further without major new plant construction.

The forecast is one of the main conclusions of the World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2014, a draft copy of which was passed to Reuters before general release later on Tuesday.

The report paints a bleak picture of the industry more than three years after three reactors melted down at Tokyo Electric Power Co's Fukushima Daiichi station north of the Japanese capital after an earthquake and tsunami.

Rising costs, construction delays, public opposition and aging fleets of reactors will make it difficult for nuclear to reverse the decline in its share of global energy supply, even after two reactors in Japan won provisional approval to restart earlier this month.

Discounting the bulk of Japan's 48 reactors due to their long-term outage, the report said the number of operating units in the world has fallen to 388, 50 less than the peak in 2002.

FILE - The Three Mile Island nuclear power plant, where the U.S. suffered its most serious nuclear accident in 1979, is seen across the Susquehanna River in Middletown, Pennsylvania.FILE - The Three Mile Island nuclear power plant, where the U.S. suffered its most serious nuclear accident in 1979, is seen across the Susquehanna River in Middletown, Pennsylvania.
x
FILE - The Three Mile Island nuclear power plant, where the U.S. suffered its most serious nuclear accident in 1979, is seen across the Susquehanna River in Middletown, Pennsylvania.
FILE - The Three Mile Island nuclear power plant, where the U.S. suffered its most serious nuclear accident in 1979, is seen across the Susquehanna River in Middletown, Pennsylvania.

Nuclear's share of global power generation has fallen to 10.8 percent, down from a high of 17.6 percent in 1996 and the the lowest since the 1980s, it said.

The report also pointed to delays in construction projects, even in China, where the government is strongly pushing for nuclear power to replace heavy carbon emitting coal stations.

Of the 67 reactors under construction globally as at July 2014, at least 49 were experiencing delays and eight had been under construction for 20 years, it said.

The average age of reactors has also increased, rising to more than 28 years, while more than 170 units, or 44 percent of the total, have been operating for more than 30 years or more.

“More than 200 reactors may face shutdown in the coming two decades,” Tatsujiro Suzuki, a former Vice Chairman of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission, said in the foreword of the report.

“If new construction pace does not match the pace of shutdown, it is clear that the nuclear share will decline rapidly,” Suzuki said.

FILE - Wind turbines produce green energy in Nauen near Berlin, Germany.FILE - Wind turbines produce green energy in Nauen near Berlin, Germany.
x
FILE - Wind turbines produce green energy in Nauen near Berlin, Germany.
FILE - Wind turbines produce green energy in Nauen near Berlin, Germany.

Renewable energy is taking up an increasing share of the energy mix, the report said. Installed solar capacity in China topped operating nuclear capacity, while in Spain more power was generated from wind in 2013 than any other source, beating nuclear for the first time.

The report's lead authors are industry analysts Mycle Schneider, who is based in Paris, and London-based Antony Froggatt. Both have advised European government bodies on energy and nuclear policy issues.

In Japan, where the pro-nuclear ruling Liberal Democratic Party faces strong public opposition to restarts, the nuclear industry won some relief when the Cabinet reversed the previous government policy of a gradual abolition of atomic power.

But it also endorsed a push for more renewables and set no targets for nuclear energy. 

You May Like

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid