A report published Tuesday by the World Nuclear Association found reactors are not being built quickly enough to meet the world’s global warming goals.
The report found 1,000 gigawatts of new nuclear capacity needs to be added by 2050 to come close to limiting global warming. A single gigawatt of power provides enough energy for roughly 700,000 homes.
That means roughly 100 new nuclear power plans need to be built worldwide by 2050, but only three were constructed last year. The report blames the slow rate of construction on a lack of public support in Europe and tough economic conditions in America. It also points out that Japan’s permanent shutdown of six reactors since the Fukushima accident in 2011 has substantially slowed the industry’s growth.
“The situation facing the nuclear industry globally is challenging.” Agneta Rising, director general of the World Nuclear Association, stated in the report preface. “Substantial progress has also been made towards the commercialization of small and advanced reactor designs. The rate of new build is, however, insufficient if the world is to meet the targets for reducing the impacts of global warming.”
America currently operates 99 nuclear reactors across 61 commercially-operated nuclear power plants, according to the Energy Information Administration. Of the 66 new nuclear reactors under construction worldwide, only four of them are being built in the U.S. — just enough to compensate for shutting down older reactors. Instead of building more modern reactors, the government is planning to simply extend the operating licenses against the advice of its own technical staff. It takes an average of 73 months to construct a new nuclear reactor, according to the report.