Nuclear power ‘drops 5% since 2006’

Electricity generated from nuclear power around the world dropped 5% between 2006 and 2011. Capacity for nuclear energy has also been “essentially flat” since 2007 according to new analysis which […]

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By Vicky Ellis

Electricity generated from nuclear power around the world dropped 5% between 2006 and 2011.

Capacity for nuclear energy has also been “essentially flat” since 2007 according to new analysis which suggests it is likely to fall as plants retire faster than new ones are built.

US-based green group Earth Policy Institute made the claim after looking over figures from the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The group points out that in 2011, 13 nuclear reactors in Japan, Germany and the United Kingdom were permanently taken offline following Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.

Despite seven new reactors, three of them in China, connecting to the grid, overall there was a 2% drop in world nuclear capacity to 369,000 megawatts by the end of 2011.

Nuclear plant shutdowns in the UK this year – including Manchester-based Oldbury plant and Wylfa B’s reactor – offset new additions in South Korea and Canada, meaning a net 3,000 megawatts of nuclear capacity were added in 2012.

In future, the research predicts nuclear capacity will continue to decline, pointing to French President François Hollande’s pledge to cut his country’s dependence on nuclear from three quarters of electricity to 50% by 2025.

Researcher J. Matthew Roney suggests the long delay some plants have seen which the IAEA lists as under construction means it is unlikely nuclear power will grow. However he does not cover any planned nuclear sites, which are not mentioned in the IAEA statistics.