The World Nuclear Industry report is issued every year and delivers precious information regarding the development of the nuclear industry globally. The Greens/EFA group has supported this project for many years.
The 2016 report once again uncovers the proclaimed renaissance of nuclear energy as a myth. For decades, shut downs of nuclear reactors have exceeded connections of new reactors to the grid. Currently, there are 402 reactors in operation in the world - that is 36 fewer than the peak of 438 in 2002. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) tries to disguise this fact by using misleading figures. For example, by listing 43 Japanese reactors as operational even though currently only two reactors are operating and most of the others have been shut down since the Fukushima catastrophe in 2011.
Over the course of the last year there has been a slight increase in output of nuclear power generation, which is entirely due to developments in China. Eight out of the ten reactors that were newly connected to the grid in 2015 (record number since 1990) were in China. And out of the 58 reactors currently under construction more than one-third (21) are in China.
However, new nuclear construction projects are plagued with delays and cost overruns. Many of the nuclear giants are in financial trouble. AREVA had to be bailed out by the French government and was broken up. Likewise, EDF struggles with billions of debt. Even the Chinese nuclear utility CGN lost 60% of its share value since June 2015.
Renewables are booming globally. Wind power output grew by 33% and solar output by 17% while nuclear is just scraping by with miniscule growth rates (1.3%). In 2015, 60% of new generating capacity was due to renewables and investments in renewables reached an all-time record. Even though China builds more nuclear power plants than any other country, its primary focus is still on renewables and it spends more than five times as much on wind and solar as on new nuclear reactors.
The energy transition towards efficient use of clean and safe renewable energy is picking up speed worldwide. The EU must keep pace here and abandon the polluting and dangerous technologies of the past.