Agency expects nuclear energy use to double
Monday, March 19, 2012 9:55 AM
Global use of nuclear energy could increase by as much as 100 percent in the next two decades on the back of growth in Asia, even though groundbreakings for new reactors fell last year after the Fukushima disaster, Reuters reported after obtaining an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report.
The report said a somewhat slower capacity expansion than previously forecast is likely after the world's worst nuclear accident in a quarter century. Japan's reactor meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear plant were triggered by a deadly earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011. The accident increased doubts about whether atomic energy is safe.
"Significant growth in the use of nuclear energy worldwide is still anticipated - between 35 percent and 100 percent by 2030 - although the agency projections for 2030 are 7 to 8 percent lower than projections made in 2010," according to the report.
Germany, Switzerland and Belgium decided to move away from nuclear power to grow reliance on renewable energy instead, Reuters said.
The IAEA document said there were three reactor construction starts last year - two in Pakistan and one in India - down from 16 in 2010.
Also last year, 13 reactors were officially declared as permanently shut down, including the four units at Fukushima, as well as eight in Germany.
"This represents the highest number of shutdowns since 1990, when the Chernobyl accident had a similar effect," the Vienna-based U.N. agency said in its annual Nuclear Technology Review. "As a comparison, 2010 saw only one shutdown and 2009 three.