Construction starts for new nuclear reactors fell to zero globally in the first half of 2016 as the atomic industry struggles against falling costs for renewables and a slowdown in Chinese building, a report on the industry showed on Wednesday.
The last time there were no new reactors started over a full year was in 1995, according to the World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2016. The number of reactors under construction is in decline for a third year, with 58 being built by the end of June, down from 67 reactors at the end of 2013, the report said.
The latest figures highlight the struggles the nuclear sector is facing after the Fukushima atomic disaster in Japan five years ago, as higher costs and delays take their toll while other sources of energy become cheaper.
The nuclear industry faces a risk it “will not be easily protected from: the economic and financial risks from nuclear power being irreversibly out-competed by renewable power,” Tomas Kaberger, energy and environment professor at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, wrote in a forward in the report.
Kaberger is also a member of the board of state-owned Swedish utility Vattenfall, which owns 10 nuclear reactors, according to its website.
Construction started on six reactors in China in 2015, three times more than the rest of the world, while eight went into operation there last year, out of 10 globally, underlining how the world’s biggest energy user is a bright spot for the nuclear industry.
Three reactors have started up this year in China, with one in South Korea and another in the U.S., Watts Bar 2, which took 43 years to build, according to the report.