Global investments in nuclear are now an order of magnitude less than those put into renewable technologies, and at least eight countries derive more energy from renewable sources than nuclear power.
It was predicted that nuclear power would become the primary global energy source back in the 1990’s, but unforeseen costs of maintaining and running giant nuclear power centers has impeded its adoption as a mainstream energy source. Smaller units called small modular reactors, thought at first to be easier to manufacture and install, were not developed within the originally promised time frame. Two companies were chosen by the Department of Energy to develop small modular reactors and one of the companies has already cut its spending on this project.
Many nuclear facilities are reaching the last quarter of their forty-year lifespan and the costs of extending that lifespan range from $1bn to $5bn for each reactor. The 60 reactors that are currently being built have all fallen years behind schedule and gone over budget. Five of the building sites have been under construction for thirty years.
Meanwhile, eight countries now draw more power from renewable sources than they do from nuclear. Even countries like Japan, strongly associated with nuclear power, have decided the cost is too high and in 2015 are not using nuclear at all, for the first time in four years.
Japan’s renewable energy sources are primarily non-hydro, like wind and solar energy. Germany, Brazil, India, Mexico, the Netherlands, and Spain also use more non-hydro renewables than nuclear power.
China, which did invest $9bn in nuclear power last year, spent even more on renewables to the tune of $83bn.