Solar, wind and other forms of renewable energy – besides hydro-electric dams – now supply more electricity than nuclear in Japan, China, India and five other major economies accounting for about half the world’s population, an atomic industry report shows.
While nuclear stations on average produce arond twice as much electricity as renewables annually, for every kilowatt installed, the high growth of solar, wind and other renewables means atomic power is fast being eclipsed as nations turn away from the energy source after the Fukushima disaster in Japan.
This is one of the main observations of the World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2015, a draft copy of which was given to Reuters before the release of the document in the House of Commons in London.
Nuclear power generation increased by 2.2 percent globally in 2014, even with the first extended shutdown of Japan’s atomic industry for 45 years, but with solar power increasing 38 percent and wind power up by a 10th, energy from the sun, wind and other renewable sources is outpacing that from the atom.
Rising costs, construction delays, public opposition and aging fleets of reactors are hurting the chances of nuclear while falling costs, greater efficiency and better management of fluctuating renewable supplies, along with improved storage, are changing the face of energy production globally.
“The impressively resilient hopes that many people still have of a global nuclear renaissance are being trumped by a real‐time revolution in efficiency‐plus‐renewables‐plus‐storage, delivering more and more solutions on the ground every year,” Jonathon Porritt, co-founder and trustee of the Forum for the Future, wrote in a foreword to the report.
Almost half of all added electricity-generating capacity in 2014 was from renewables, excluding large hydro-dams, the report said.
In output terms, China, Japan and India – three of the world’s four largest economies – along with Brazil, Germany, Mexico, the Netherlands and Spain now generate more electricity from non-hydro renewables than nuclear, it said.
In Britain, output from renewables, including hydro, surpassed atomic generation “for the first time in decades”, while in the US the share of renewables was 13 percent, up from 8.5 percent in 2007.
Discounting Japan’s moribund industry due to its long-term outage, the report said the world’s operating units numbered 391 in 2014, up three from a year earlier, and 47 less than a 2002 peak.
The report’s lead authors are industry analysts Mycle Schneider, based in Paris, and London-based Antony Froggatt. Both have advised European government bodies on energy and nuclear policy.