25 August 2014

Ecologist (UK): The nuclear industry today: declining, but not (yet) dying

The nuclear industry today: declining, but not (yet) dying

Jonathon Porritt

Ecologist, 25th August 2014

The World Nuclear Industry Status Report provides an account of an industry in decline, writes Jonathon Porritt - with rising operating costs and an ever-shrinking share of world energy production, while the sector loses the race for investment and new generating capacity to fast growing renewable energy technologies.

Every year, the World Nuclear Industry Status Report reminds me why those in the Green movement who think nuclear has a major role to play in securing a low-carbon world are completely, dangerously off their collective trollies.

The Status Report is not an anti-nuclear polemic. Over the years, its authors (Mycle Schneider and Antony Froggatt) have assiduously built its reputation for dispassionate reporting on the state of the industry, presented as objectively and non-judgmentally as possible.

It uses a wide range of sources (academic, industry, avowedly pro-nuclear and avowedly anti-nuclear) to maintain longitudinal datasets going back over decades to tell it as it is - in contrast to all the froth of partisan propaganda. On both sides.

Let me just give you a taste from the newly-published 2014 Report:


“The nuclear share of the world’s power generation declined steadily from an historic peak of 17.6% in 1996 to 10.8% in 2013. Nuclear power’s share of global commercial primary energy production declined from the 2012 low of 4.5%, a level last seen in 1984, to a new low of 4.4%.”

“Twenty-eight years after the Chernobyl disaster, none of the next generation reactors (or so-called Generation III or III+) has entered service, with construction projects in Finland and France many years behind schedule.”