Today the world has 448 reactors, many with capacity factors of better than 90 percent. That’s the share of the reactors’ potential output that they averaged year-round, producing more than twice as much electricity as PV cells and wind turbines combined. Nuclear power provided the highest share of electricity in France (77 percent), but Swiss reactors contributed 38 percent and South Korea got 30 percent, as did Japan before Fukushima. The U.S. share remains at almost 20 percent. Meanwhile, there have been cost overruns in the construction of nuclear plants and a frustrating inability to come up with an acceptable way to store spent nuclear fuel. Nor has there been much success in switching to reactors that might be safer and less expensive than the dominant design of pressurized water reactors, which are essentially beached versions of U.S. Navy submarine designs of the 1950s. The only leading economies with major expansion plans are in Asia, led by China, South Korea, and India, but even they can’t do much to reverse the decline in the share of nuclear power in worldwide electricity generation. That share peaked at nearly 18 percent in 1996, fell to 11 percent in 2015, and is expected to bump up to just 12 percent by 2040, according to the International Energy Agency.
IEEE Spectrum 26th Sept 2016 read more »