Has nuclear power had its day?

For the western world, nuclear power has been around for decades, and in Europe the amount of planned new nuclear plants is in decline. France was once leading the way with nuclear power, but now even they are reducing their dependency on nuclear. Countries such as Italy and Spain have been forced by public opinion to abandon any plans to expand their nuclear industry and Germany will phases out nuclear completely by 2022, opting for renewable energy to fill in the gap.

As a share of global electricity production, nuclear has fallen from 17% to 11% since the mid ninety’s. Groups apposing nuclear power around the world remind world leaders that none of Japans 48 reactors are back online after the Fukushima disaster in 2011.

However, on a global scale the future of nuclear power has never looked as bright, with 70 new nuclear reactor currently being built and a further 500 proposed. This is the highest in 25 years and is mainly driven by large number of nuclear plants being proposed in China, India and Russia. Eastern European countries such as Ukraine also favour nuclear power, and see it as an escape from their dependency on Russian gas.

Countries with a state controlled economy such as China also find it a lot cheaper to build nuclear plants, as they have easy access to funding for projects such as this. As a comparrision with the UK a nuclear plant in China can cost 50% less, with plants requiring an initial investment of between $10 billion and $15 billion.

With a new global push to reduce carbon emission’s agreed at the COP21 Conference in Paris last year, countries are struggling to identify reliable and proven sources of low carbon energy, and nuclear ticks those boxes.

With this in mind, although the nuclear power industry is slowing down in most western countries, we could be at the start of a new global push into low carbon nuclear energy, investment that environmentalists say should be spent on renewable energy instead.