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October 29, 2013
Nuclear capacity continues recovery

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports that the international nuclear energy picture is still reforming as a result of the catastrophic meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi reactor in Japan in March 2011.

Following the incident, there was a dramatic spike in global permanent plant shutdowns from 1 in 2010 to 13 in 2011.  But the situation stabilized with three shutdowns in 2012 and four so far in 2013.  As of 2012, nuclear generating units have reached a global capacity of 370 gigawatts (GW), says the EIA.  Global capacity of 375.5 GW in 2010 dipped to 365.5 GW by the end 2011.

Perhaps the most significant development following Fukushima occurred in Germany, which announced it would shut down all nuclear power plants by 2022.  China also instituted a 20-month moratorium on new approvals for nuclear power plant construction; the moratorium was lifted at the end of October 2012.  Many countries, including the United States, have revised or are revising their nuclear plant safety requirements in light of lessons learned from Fukushima.

In Japan, where all but two of nation’s 50 nuclear power plants are shut down, the issuance of new standards in July 2012 has led to applications to restart several reactors.

The EIA notes that there are 69 nuclear power reactors under construction around the world, mostly in Asia, where electricity demand is increasing in developing economies.

Regional trends

Following are regional trends reported by the EIA.
  • North America. The United States is currently constructing five new nuclear power plants, and in 2012, Canada issued the first site preparation license in 30 years for construction of up to four new nuclear power plants.
  • Europe.  Since 1995, capacity in Europe has remained relatively stable. Additions of new capacity through construction of new nuclear power plants have often been offset by nuclear power plant retirements. Although Germany is shutting down all of its nuclear power plants, several countries, including France and the United Kingdom, are constructing or have announced plans to construct new nuclear power plants.
  • Eurasia and Asia.  Growth in nuclear capacity in Asia is being led by China, where nine new reactors began operating between 2010 and 2012.  The amount of planned new nuclear capacity in North America and Europe is relatively small in comparison to the planned capacity in Russia, Japan, China, Korea, and India.

EIA’s latest data on global nuclear generation capacity  

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