The Independent Assessment of Nuclear Developments in the World

Home > News > In the Media > Physics Today (US): Wall Street Journal: "A nuclear renaissance hasn’t (...)

Physics Today (US): Wall Street Journal: "A nuclear renaissance hasn’t materialized"

Tuesday 4 August 2015

Wall Street Journal: "A nuclear renaissance hasn’t materialized"

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists sees renewables "surging" past nuclear in many countries.

Physics Today, 03 August 2015

Steven T. Corneliussen

A November 2014 Wall Street Journal news article asked whether the US government can "revive nuclear power." Now the 28 July WSJ Business and Tech section front page, observing languishing nuclear construction, has offered an answer: probably not. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists agrees.

In November, the WSJ consulted industry experts about nuclear power’s future amid problems and disadvantages: newly abundant cheap natural gas, public perceptions since the tsunami-induced Fukushima nuclear disaster, the costs of new construction, the vexing problem of nuclear waste, and what one of the experts lamented as the absence of a "reasonable carbon policy [that] would positively influence the economics" of nuclear power.

The July piece began,

Building nuclear reactors out of factory-produced modules was supposed to make their construction swifter and cheaper, leading to a new boom in nuclear energy.

But two US sites where nuclear reactors are under construction have been hit with costly delays that have shaken faith in the new construction method and created problems concerning who will bear the added expense.

The article quoted Joseph "Buzz" Miller, executive vice president of nuclear development for Georgia Power, which is responsible for one of the two sites: "The promise of modular construction has yet to be seen." It mentioned the problem of decay of industrial capabilities and skills for building nuclear plants. The final paragraph sums up the situation:

US utilities proposed building more than two dozen reactors five years ago before the shale-gas revolution drove down the price of natural gas and made plants that burn gas a more attractive option for the power industry. Last month, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said it was folding a division to manage construction of new reactors back into the division from which it was pulled a few years ago.

To make what’s implied explicit, the online version adds, "acknowledging a nuclear renaissance hasn’t materialized."

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists sees it the same way. Concerning the World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2015, it says:

This year’s report comes at a time when most energy and environmental experts shy away from the words "nuclear renaissance" but some view nuclear power as an indispensable substitute for fossil fuels in global efforts to combat climate change. Current trends, however, suggest that a rapid ramp-up of nuclear power is unlikely, and that renewable energy is surging past nuclear power in many countries.

— -

Steven T. Corneliussen, a media analyst for the American Institute of Physics, monitors three national newspapers, the weeklies Nature and Science, and occasionally other publications. He has published op-eds in the Washington Post and other newspapers, has written for NASA’s history program, and is a science writer at a particle-accelerator laboratory.

More...

What They Say…

“The Report sets forth in painstaking detail the actual experience and achievements of nuclear energy around the world.”

Peter A. Bradford

Former commissioner
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)
(in his foreword to the 2013 report)
“A vital public service... Uniquely independent, thorough, and timely assessment."

Amory B. Lovins

Chairman, Rocky Mountain Institute
USA
“This annual publication has over 20 years evolved into the most reliable, strikingly original, comprehensive and penetrating assessment of the global nuclear industry.”

Praful Bidwai

Financial Chronicle
Delhi, India
"Amid the hype and PR, the smoke and mirrors, of the 'nuclear renaissance', the Status Report offers a hard-edged reality check."

Walt Patterson

Associate Fellow Chatham House
London, UK
“Fantastic piece of work. Must reading for any observer of nuclear energy."

Henri Sokolski

Executive Director Nonproliferation Policy Education Center
Washington DC, USA
“Reliable research based on cold, hard facts, unlike the hype and amnesia of industry sources.”

Scott Ludlam

Senator
Australia
“Félicitations pour la dernière édition du WNISR. Formidable comme d'habitude!”

Fulcieri Maltini

International Consultant Former Director of the Nuclear Safety Account, EBRD
Italy/France
“Thought-provoking as usual.”

Will Dalrymple

Editor Nuclear Engineering International
UK
"The authoritative report on the status of nuclear power plants worldwide is the World Nuclear Industry Status Report."

USAID

Bangkok, Thailand
“Such an illuminating report.”

Sam Geall

Deputy Editor China Dialogue
London, UK
"An astounding collection of facts and figures, a myth-busting international overview… An eye-opening piece of work!"

R. Andreas Krämer

Chairman Ecologic Institute
Berlin, Germany
“I really appreciate you letting us excerpt your report! It’s incredibly well researched and comprehensive, so thank you!”

Stuart Luman

Associate Editor Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
USA