Nuclear failures
Risks, uncertainties and future potential

In 2011 the tragic events at Fukushima called the nuclear industry to a sudden halt. In the months after the accident, several nuclear programmes for example in Switzerland, Thailand, The Netherlands and to some extent also in the U.S., were put on hold or stopped entirely. Now, seven years later, it is evident that the global nuclear industry has recovered from this shock and is back to speed, albeit with a slower pace. In the beginning of 2018 about 450 reactors had been under operation and more than 55 new reactors are under construction at the moment. With varying level of maturity several countries around the world plan to enter into nuclear as newcomers. In total globally more than 800 intentions, mostly in Middle East and Asia, exist to deploy nuclear technology; large commercial nuclear power plants as well as small modular reactors. This shows a clear path forward to the nuclear industry.

This large number of proposed reactors reveals a remarkable fact: It is expected that the number of operated nuclear power plants will increase until 2030 compared to today’s status-quo despite contradicting indications from some media.

This positive scenario however, does not show the number of nuclear programmes which “failed” to continue with their project development or construction activities and have either stopped entirely or been put on hold indefinitely.

A recent Arthur D. Little study identifies more than 10 nuclear programmes totalling 45 planned reactors which have ceased existence during the last five years, several of them already before Fukushima. Another 25 nuclear programmes with about 70 reactors have put their plans on hold. If and when these programmes continue is uncertain. On the other hand, countries like Turkey and the Kingom of Saudi Arabia push to advance their programs rapidly and China will match the number of installed reactors with those of France in less than ten years, becoming the world’s second largest nuclear power producer after the United States by 2025.