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Report Shows Nuclear Energy Production Fell by 4% Last Year

Nuclear energy’s share in global electricity production fell by 4% in 2022, year-on-year, reaching its lowest since the 1980s, according to the annual World Nuclear Industry report released on Wednesday. 

In 2022, nuclear energy was responsible for generating 2,546 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity globally, representing 9.2% of total generation, with the U.S. generating the largest share, followed by China. 

At a time when climate change is fostering a sort of renaissance for nuclear power, aging nuclear power plants are nearing shut-down and new projects face delays and cost hurdles.  

For the first half of 2023, there were 407 reactors in operation across 32 countries, which represents a decline of four operating reactors from the previous year and a decline of 31 operating reactors from a decade ago, with progress on new reactors stymied by cost fundamentals and timeframes. 

While the report notes that nuclear energy is increasingly being viewed as a route to net-zero carbon emissions, WNISR views this as a non-starter in terms of climate change solutions, emphasizing that it costs nearly four times more to build out nuclear reactors compared to wind and solar power solutions, calculating total lifetime cost and output. 

In its annual report, the WNISR reached some highly critical conclusions about nuclear energy, noting that while changes in perception have been enormous, “in its broader characteristics, the global nuclear power industry today remains much as it was then--opaque when it comes to costs and timetables, prone to wildly inflated growth forecasts, and stubbornly fighting the rapid growth in renewables, although the gaps between the two in terms of growth, cost and performance widen by the year.”

Further, the WNISR said nuclear energy remains “an expensive and dangerous proposition financially, environmentally and now militarily, with insufficient liability protection and prospects of future Black Swan events that destroy whole regions, uproot populations, increase cancer occurrence, and threaten even distant ecosystems.” 

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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