05 July 2011

A Measure of Fukushima's Impact on Nuclear Power

A lot has been written about the consequences of the Fukushima nuclear disaster for the future of nuclear power.  Much of the discussion has focused on the high-profile cases of Germany and of course Japan.  But overall, it seems that the aggregate effects of the disaster on the global prospects for nuclear power are pretty small. 

Evidence for this comes from this nugget buried deep in the FT, which I was very surprised to see (I would have thought that the terminated or delayed number would have been much larger):
Of 570 units planned before Fukushima, only 37 have been axed or put on hold since the crisis, according to Arthur D. Little, a consultancy.
And while Germany steps back from nuclear power, it looks like the UK is jumping back in with renewed vigor:
The British nuclear industry is about to enjoy a “renaissance” and the country must become the “number one destination” for investment in new reactors, the energy minister will say on Tuesday.

Charles Hendry will deliver the most enthusiastic ministerial endorsement yet of the nuclear industry’s ambition to build a new generation of power stations.

In his speech to the Nuclear Industry Association, seen by the Financial Times, Mr Hendry will say: “The UK has everything to gain from becoming the number one destination to invest in new nuclear. Nuclear is the cheapest low-carbon source of electricity around, so it can keep bills down and the lights on.”

A dozen new reactors are set to be constructed at eight sites in England and Wales, with the first due to be completed in 2018. The total cost of the programme, the most ambitious in Europe, is forecast to be at least £50bn.
Reports of the death of nuclear power have clearly been exaggerated.