25 July 2013

The Economist (UK): Critical reactions

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Critical reactions

The Economist, Jul 25th 2013, 14:36 by O.M. and L.P. Nuclear power is in decline, despite new reactors

THIRTY-ONE countries generate nuclear power, with those that use it for more than 30% of their electricity all in Europe. The number of countries building nuclear plants went up by one last year, to 14. The United Arab Emirates started construction of one unit of South Korean design in 2012 and another in 2013, the first previously non-nuclear nation to start building a nuclear power plant for 27 years. But the industry’s role in electricity production is continuing to decline, according to this year’s World Nuclear Industry Status Report, a compendium of analysis and data by the activist and expert Mycle Schneider. The number of reactors peaked in 2002 at 444, compared with 427 today. The share of electricity they produce is down 12% from its 2006 peak, largely because of post-Fukushima shutdowns in Japan. As a proportion of all electricity generated, nuclear peaked in 1993 at 17% and has now fallen to 10%. The average age of operating plants is increasing, with number over 40 years old (currently 31 plants) set to grow quite rapidly.