The nuclear industry: everything is terrible

nuclear renaissance in ruinsThe nuclear renaissance lies in ruins, say authors of industry report because the economics don't work.

Pointing to the US, lead authors Mycle Schneider and Antony Froggatt of the World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2013 recall 2009 when 31 new reactors were set to be commsissioned. Today, only four are actually being built.

"Those four are hopelessly uneconomic but proceed because their state legislatures have committed to finish them as long as a dollar remains to be taken from any electric customer’s pocket."

Far from a renaissance, the authors say the sector is fading.

"The nuclear industry is in decline: The 427 operating reactors are 17 lower than the peak in in 2002, while, the total installed capacity peaked in 2010 at 375 GWe before declining to the current level, which was last seen a decade ago.

The authors round up some tough statistics. As of July 2013, 66 reactors are under construction but four of those plants have been under construction for over 10 years and nine under construction for over 20 year.

"In the absence of major new-build programs, the unit-weighted average age of the world nuclear reactor fleet continues to increase and in mid-2013 stands at 28 years. Over 190 units (45 percent of total) have operated for 30 years of which 44 have run for 40 years or more.

"The average construction time of the 34 units that started up in the world between 2003 and July 2013 was 9.4 years.

"Cost estimates have increased in the past decade from $1,000 to $7,000 per kW installed."

Energy analyst Chris Nedler summed up the reports findings in a tweet.