The size of the global nuclear fleet has been stagnant for 30 years, and last year was no different. According to the 2020 World Nuclear Industry Status Report, released Thursday, there were 408 nuclear reactors online across the world as of July 1, 2020—a decline of nine units since the middle of last year and roughly on par with the number of reactors in operation in 1988. The bulky 361-page industry report was compiled by an international team of independent experts led by Mycle Schneider, a consultant based in Paris. Over the last 15 years, it has become well-known for offering accurate but often sobering assessments of the state of nuclear energy across the globe. Last year, Schneider pointedly asserted that “the world is experiencing an undeclared ‘organic’ nuclear phaseout.” Although the 2020 report is overflowing with data, several key trends stand out. First, although the raw number of worldwide reactors is well below its all-time high of 438. Second, China continues to be the main driver of new nuclear energy, but over the long term its intentions are uncertain. Third, reactor construction delays and cost overruns continue to plague the nuclear industry and, notably, early indications suggest that small modular reactors may be no exception.
Bulletin of Atomic Scientists 25th Sept 2020 read more »