In 2010, there were more nuclear power units under construction worldwide than in any year since 1988. Even before Fukushima, however, status indicators for the international nuclear industry were showing a negative trend. Fewer countries are operating nuclear fission reactors for energy purposes than in previous years, and many countries are now past their nuclear peak. Worldwide nuclear production is generally declining, and many new projects are experiencing construction delays. Even if reactors can be operated for an average of 40 years, 74 new plants would have to come on line by 2015 to maintain the status quo, which is impossible given current constraints on fabricating reactor components. Developments in Asia, particularly in China, do not fundamentally change the global picture. The dramatic post-Fukushima decisions in two of the four largest economies, Japan and Germany, and in several other nuclear countries could accelerate the decline of a rapidly aging industry.
The Bulletin elevates expert voices above the noise. But as an independent, nonprofit media organization, our operations depend on the support of readers like you. Help us continue to deliver quality journalism that holds leaders accountable. Your support of our work at any level is important. In return, we promise our coverage will be understandable, influential, vigilant, solution-oriented, and fair-minded. Together we can make a difference.