Global production of nuclear energy is expected to grow significantly in future years, despite setbacks in Japan and Germany, as China and the United States eyes next-generation reactors.
Worldwide nuclear electricity generating capacity is expected to increase between 44 percent and 99 percent by 2035, the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Nuclear Energy Agency said in their joint biannual report on uranium resources, released this week.
Japan’s decision to shut down all but two of its nuclear reactors in the wake of the nuclear accident at Fukushima Daiichi last year played in to Germany’s decision to phase out nuclear by 2022, but has apparently not slowed plans in other parts of Asia. Nuclear energy will see the sharpest expansion in China, India, and South Korea, the agencies said in a release, as well as in Russia.
Gary Dyck, head of nuclear fuel cycle and materials at the International Atomic Energy Agency, told Reuters that the long-term impact of Fukushima on global nuclear energy production was a “speed bump… We still expect huge growth in China.”
Capacity in East Asia will jump by 125 percent to 185 percent, according to the report.
Though China suspended new nuclear projects in the wake of Fukushima, it now appears that China will react to the incident by turning to newer, domestically produced nuclear reactors, Harvard research scholar Yun Zhou wrote last month.
“It appears that the Fukushima disaster may lead China to adopt newer, third-generation (or Gen III) reactor designs created by Chinese firms, allowing China to wean itself from purely foreign reactor technology much more quickly than was expected pre-Fukushima,” she wrote. “In fact, a race to develop indigenous Gen III technology is emerging, with all three major nuclear power companies in China announcing their own Gen III reactor designs.”
China’s 22 Generation II reactors currently under construction will not go under any major redesigns, but its additional 14 planned reactors are much more likely to be advanced models.