As of December 1, 2013, a total of 429 nuclear reactors were considered operational in 31 countries. The nuclear industry is in decline, however, with global electricity generation from nuclear power plants down by a record 7 percent in 2012. This decline is largely due to the effects of the triple disaster that struck Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in March 2011. All of Japan’s nuclear reactors are shut down, and the struggle to manage radioactive water and a radiation-exposed workforce continues at Fukushima. Currently there are 69 reactors under construction worldwide, 29 of which are in China, but the average age of existing reactors has been increasing steadily. The industry continues to face economic challenges including lengthy construction times, uncertainty about new reactor designs, and difficulty financing projects. Although global investment in renewable energy capacity declined in 2013, the costs of equipment also declined, making it possible to significantly increase renewable capacity. Three of the world’s four largest economies now run on a higher share of renewables than nuclear power.
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