By: Canon Bryan
Whenever the prospects of the nuclear energy industry are discussed, critics and skeptics inevitably focus their attention on the First World nations. Why not? First world nations are currently responsible for 79% of the world’s total nuclear energy capacity. Disbelievers in nuclear energy commonly cite the fact that the USA’s nuclear industry (101 operable reactors out of a total global fleet of 428) is facing enormous challenges, including financing challenges – owing to the near-term attractiveness of natural gas power – and stifling regulatory challenges – from a regulator who seems intent on bringing down the industry with Draconian rules that seem to defy the very laws of physics.
Then there’s Japan and Germany: two once-large nuclear nations who, in a hasty, emotional and political, but not scientific decision, to exit nuclear, following the Fukushima Dai-Ichi meltdowns. Since then, new leadership in Japan has reversed that hasty decision. Many industry analysts expect new leadership in Germany to do the same some time before the 2021 proposed exit date. Nevertheless, they provide negative sentiment for the investing public.
If there is any positive sentiment for nuclear energy, it mostly seems to come from China. Not a bad idea. Indeed, China is currently constructing 29 reactors, with another 57 reactors in the planning stages, and yet another 118 reactors having been officially proposed to the state. Add that to the 20 they currently have in operation, and that’s 216 reactors – more than double the entire US fleet. For all this capacity, China will require 116.7 million pounds of uranium every year. That’s 77% of total global production in 2012. For one country! And that doesn’t include reactors that are not officially proposed, but are being considered. China has stated that they would like to expand their nuclear capacity from its current 17 Gigawatts (GWe) to 400 GWe by 2040. And that is about twice as much as what 216 reactors can possibly generate. So China is definitely a reason for rejoicing in the nuclear community.
Then there’s India. The government of India announced that they have a mandate to increase nuclear capacity to 25% of total base-load energy supply by 2050. That is quite a jump from the 3.6% of total grid that their 21 nuclear power plants generate today.
But are China and India the only saviors of nuclear?
Certainly not. There are 18 sovereign nations right now who are either building or planning or have officially proposed to build new nuclear reactors domestically that have never had nuclear power before. These 18 countries are: Bangladesh, Belarus, Chile, Egypt, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Kazakhstan, North Korea, Lithuania, Malaysia, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Turkey, and Vietnam. As anyone can plainly see from this list, these are not all OECD nations.
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-- Posted Monday, May 5 2014 | Digg This Article |
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