Two years after Fukushima, global nuclear power generation continues to decline. If it were not for the World Nuclear Industry Status Report we probably would not know. This is because the nuclear industry is working hard to have us believe quite the opposite: that the world is seeing a nuclear renaissance. This is especially true in the US, where operating reactors are being closed for being uneconomic for the first time in 15 years.
And yet, in his Foreword to the report, Peter Bradford from the Vermont Law School writes that “nuclear power requires obedience, not transparency”. Necessary regulations and stakeholder obedience are essential to any nuclear power policy. Yet if policy makers, pressure groups and the interested public have limited access to transparent information, how can they engage on the issue and make adequate decisions?
This is where the significance of the World Nuclear Industry Status Report comes in:
- It bundles and makes available generally accepted data;
- It provides a vital reality check to the current situation of the global nuclear industry as well as identifying important nuclear trends;
- Over the years, the report has made a name for itself as an independent and accurate reference point to many popular media outlets the world over;
- The report is so successful because it focuses primarily on the economics and financial aspects of nuclear power rather than its environmental impacts.
The economics of nuclear power are very grim. Germany is phasing out its nuclear power by the year 2022 and replacing much of it with renewable energy. But Germany is not alone: in its chapter “Nuclear Power vs. Renewable Energy” the report points to renewable energy as a valuable energy replacement to nuclear power and fossil fuels. Here, Mycle Schneider and Antony Foggatt point out that China, Japan and Germany – three of the world’s four largest economies – are following this trend and generated more electricity from renewable energy sources than from nuclear in 2012.
In a sense, Germany’s energy transition has received much of its boost through the political decision to phase out nuclear power. Not only does this policy offer the best planning security for investors but it also eliminates significant barriers to innovation when it comes to other generating options and energy efficiency measures. It is a model worth considering for other countries.
Visit www.WorldNuclearReport.org to read the report.