Global nuclear energy output falls 4.3% in 2011
Largest decline on record driven by falls in Japan and Germany
As the UAE, Jordan and Saudi Arabia forge ahead with plans for nuclear power, the global appetite for nuclear energy has recorded its largest fall on record through 2011, with worldwide nuclear output down 4.3% in 2011. BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy 2012, released this week, has recorded large falls in nuclear energy output - an obvious consequence of the Fukushima accident in Japan. Many nuclear programmes around the world – including those planned in the region – have been the subject of close review as regulators address potential safety issues raised by the accident.
Unsurprisingly Japan recorded the largest fall in output, falling 44.3% in 2011 from production levels in the previous year. This is equivalent to a fall in total energy production share from 10.6% in 2010, to just 6.2% in 2011. A large fall was also recorded in Germany, where nuclear output fell by 23.3% in the same period. The country has also been involved in a substantial review of its reliance on nuclear power, with the country last year reporting that it was planning to phase out all nuclear power plants by 2022.
The US – by far the biggest nuclear power producer - has also reduced its reliance on nuclear, falling 2.1% in 2011. Much of the country’s nuclear power plants are older installations, and fewer applications for new nuclear licenses have been recorded in recent years. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission in the country has undertaken a two-stage review process of all operating plants to decide whether regulations need to change in light of Fukushima.
By contrast, India and South Korea have increased their nuclear output considerably – both increasing nuclear production levels by 39.6% in 2011. Mexico also recorded a substantial increase on 2010 figures – 71.6% - although has already said that it has abandoned plans to proceed with plans for ten new nuclear reactors and will instead focus on natural gas-fired power plants. France, the second largest nuclear producer in the world, has also increased its output by 3.2%, with output now at 100 million tonnes of oil equivalent. There are, however, suggestions that the country may seek a partial reduction in reactor numbers, with some of the oldest reactors being closed by 2025.
In the region, Abu Dhabi’s Braka facility is still targeting a 2020 completion date, whilst Jordan’s programme is aiming for completion in 2021 despite recent reports that have suggested security concerns from the Syria conflict have forced Jordan to look again at the site and security of the nuclear plant. Regional regulators have continually emphasised that lessons have been learned from Fukushima, and that nuclear plans will progress only on the strictest safety guidelines.