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

Analyst: Joint-Arab Military Force Poses Perilous Challenge

Although international forces are desperately needed to counter the threat of the Islamic State group, analysts say conflicting alliances could escalate fighting More

Asia’s Middle Class Changes Demand for Wheat Grain Exporters

Changes in tastes and diets are boon for wheat exporters such as Australia and the United States More

S. African Comedian Taking Over Popular TV Show

Mixed-race comedian Trevor Noah, who is loved for his edgy jibes about race and language, is taking the helm from Jon Stewart at The Daily Show in US More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More