Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Is there any chance for nuclear energy revival?

Is there any chance for nuclear energy to yet again kickstart its popularity, despite the recent setbacks such as Fukushima nuclear disaster, or is nuclear going to continue its current trend of being replaced by renewable energy sources?

Not so long ago, back in 1996, nuclear energy accounted for 17.6 percent of global power production but today this percentage has declined to mere 10.8 percent. Renewable energy sources, on the other hand, continue to grow and today account for little over 23% of global power production.

According to the recent International Atomic Energy Agency report global nuclear power capacity was 371.8 GW at the end of 2013, experiencing noticeable decline since 2010 when it was 375.3 GW.

The popularity of renewable energy sources was only one of the reasons for this decline. Others include safety issues (Fukushima accident) and the nuclear waste issue.

According to the most recent estimates by the International Energy Agency (IEA), nuclear investments averaged only $8 billion per year between 2000 and 2013, while on the other hand solar averaged $37 billion and wind $43 billion.

At this moment there are 31 countries with operating nuclear power plants on their territories. The chances for nuclear energy renaissance appear very slim from the current point of view and it looks like in years to come renewable energy will continue to phase out nuclear power.

Solar and wind look to be our future while nuclear energy looks like the lost relic from the past times. However, this relic is still very much needed in many countries to provide power, at least for the time being because solar, wind and other renewables still need to grow significantly in capacity in order to totally phase out the world's need for nuclear reactors.