Twenty years after its first edition, the World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2012 portrays an industry suffering from the cumulative impacts of the world economic crisis, the Fukushima disaster, ferocious competitors and its own planning and management difficulties.
Key results of the assessment include:
• Only seven new reactors started up, while 19 were shut down in 2011. On 5 July 2012, one reactor was reconnected to the grid at Ohi in Japan and another unit is expected to generate power on the site within two weeks. However, it remains highly uncertain, how many others will receive permission to restart operations in Japan.
• Four countries announced that they will phase out nuclear power within a given timeframe.
• At least five countries have decided not to engage or re-engage in nuclear programs.
• In Bulgaria and Japan two reactors under construction were abandoned.
• In four countries new build projects were officially cancelled. Of the 59 units under construction in the world, at least 18 are experiencing multi-year delays, while the remaining 41 projects were started within the past five years or have not yet reached projected start-up dates, making it difficult to assess whether they are running on schedule.
• Construction costs are rapidly rising. The European EPR cost estimate has increased by a factor of four (adjusted for inflation) over the past ten years.
• Two thirds of the assessed nuclear companies and utilities were downgraded by credit rating agency Standard and Poor’s over the past five years.
• The assessment of a dozen nuclear companies reveals that all but one performed worse than the UK FTSE100 index. The shares of the world’s largest nuclear operator, French state utility EDF, lost 82 percent of their value, that of the world’s largest nuclear builder, French state company AREVA, fell by 88 percent.
In contrast, renewable energy development has continued with rapid growth figures.
“The fact that plant life extension seems the most likely survival strategy of the nuclear industry raises serious safety issues. Most critically will be to what extent and for how long nuclear safety authorities will be in a position to withstand growing pressure from nuclear utilities to keep operating increasingly outdated technology”, states lead author Mycle Schneider.
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