Nuclear Power Crawling Forward

Jim Riccio | Jun 18, 2008

In 2007, global installed capacity of nuclear power grew by less than 2,000 megawatts to 372,000 megawatts.1 (See Figure 1.) The slight growth in nuclear power is attributable to the addition of three new reactors in India, China, and Romania.2 The new nuclear capacity is equi­valent to just one tenth of the new wind power installed globally in 2007.3

Rising gas prices and concern about the carbon dioxide emissions from coal plants have fueled growing interest in nuclear power in many nations.4 But only four countries began building new nuclear reactors in 2007: China, France, Russia, and South Korea.5 The seven new reactors being built in those countries will account for 5,190 megawatts of new nuclear capacity—about 100 megawatts less than was added in 2006.6 (See Figure 2.)

No nuclear reactors were permanently shut down in 2007.7 Since 1964, however, the commercial nuclear industry has retired 124 reactors, amounting to a total of 36,800 mega­watts of generating capacity.8 (See Figure 3.)

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