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reprint The global rebirth of nuclear power was meant to be well under way by now, writes Jim Green. But in fact, nuclear's share of world power generation is on a steady long term decline, and new reactors are getting ever harder to build, and finance. The only real growth area is decommissioning, but that too has a problem: where's the money to pay for it? The UK's planned Hinkley C nuclear plant is looking increasingly like a dead duck - or possibly parrot. As the Financial Times reports today, Parliament's Public Accounts Committee has abandoned plans to examine the 'value of money' Hinkley C offers taxpayers - because no deal has been reached and none is expected before the general election in May. In other words, all that bullish talk about Hinkley C launching Britain's 'nuclear renaissance' has melted away like a spring frost in the morning sun. There is no deal on the table for the PAC to examine - indeed it's looking increasingly as if there may never be a deal, in spite of the astonishingly generous £30 billion support package on offer, at the expense of UK taxpayers and energy users. Only last week Austria confirmed that it will launch a legal action against the Hinkley C support package, on the grounds that it constitutes illegal state aid. The action looks likely to succeed - and even if it doesn't, it's predicted to ensure at least four years of delay.
But it's not just in the UK that the nuclear renaissance has hit the rocks. Global nuclear power capacity remained stagnant in 2014 according to the World Nuclear Association:
⬛ Five new reactors began supplying electricity and three were permanently shut down.
⬛ There are now 437 'operable' reactors compared with 435 reactors a year ago. Thus the number of reactors increased by two (0.5%) and nuclear generating capacity increased by 2.4 gigawatts (GW) or 0.6%. (For comparison, around 100 GW of solar and wind power capacity were built in 2014, up from 74 GW in 2013.)
⬛ Construction started on just three reactors during 2014. A total of 70 reactors (74 GW) are under construction.
Thus a long-standing pattern of stagnation continues. In the two decades from 1995-2014, the number of power reactors leap from 436 to 437. Ten years ago, the rhetoric about a nuclear power renaissance was in full swing. In those ten years, the number of reactors has fallen from 443 to 437. But despite 20 years of stagnation, the World Nuclear Association remains upbeat. Its latest report, The World Nuclear Supply Chain: Outlook 2030, envisages the start-up of 266 new reactors by 2030. Read on... // empowered by wolframscharnhorst.blogspot.com).
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