Japan Economic Newswire (Kyodo News)
April 16, 2011
Global power generation by renewable energy sources outpaced that by nuclear energy for the first time in 2010, a recent report published by a U.S. think tank showed.
“In 2010, for the first time, worldwide cumulated installed capacity of wind turbines, biomass and waste-to-energy plants, and solar power reached 381 gigawatts, outpacing the installed nuclear capacity of 375 gigawatts,” the report, “The World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2010-2011,” issued by Worldwatch Institute, noted.
One gigawatt equals 1 billion watts.
Even before the nuclear disaster triggered at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi power plant last month, “the international nuclear industry has been unable to stop the slow decline of nuclear energy,” it said. “Not enough new units are coming online, and the world’s reactor fleet is aging quickly. Moreover, it is now evident that nuclear power development cannot keep up with the pace of its renewable energy competitors.”
As of April 1, 437 nuclear reactors with an average age of 26 years were operating in 30 countries worldwide, while the International Atomic Energy Agency lists 64 reactors as “under construction” in 14 countries, according to the report.
While some nuclear utilities envisage reactor lifetimes of 40 years or more, “the scenario of generalized lifetime extensions is getting less likely after Fukushima, as many questions regarding safety upgrades, maintenance costs, and other issues would need to be more carefully addressed,” the report said.