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

Monday 25 August 2014

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."


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
“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

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

Fulcieri Maltini

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

Will Dalrymple

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


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