The market niche that nuclear power once held is disappearing. The key nuclear indicators—including the number of operating reactors, installed capacity, power generation, and share of total electricity generation—all show that the global nuclear industry is in decline. In 2012, nuclear power’s competitors—most notably, wind and solar generation—are rapidly gaining market share as long lead times, construction delays, cost overruns, and safety concerns have combined to make nuclear power a risky investment that the markets are increasingly unwilling to make. To renew the aging world nuclear fleet, nuclear utilities would need to surmount a number of major problems, including a short-term manufacturing bottleneck, a shortage of skilled workers, regulatory uncertainty, a skeptical financial sector, and negative public opinion. The aftermath of the Fukushima disaster and the world economic crisis have only exacerbated these problems. The authors write that a realistic scenario that leads to an increase in nuclear’s share of the world’s electricity is hard to imagine.
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