Fukushima may delay world n-energy growth by 10 years

Singapore, April 10 (IANS) The Fukushima nuclear disaster may delay the growth of the world nuclear energy market by 10 years, an expert from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Wednesday.

However, this does not mean that the growth of the nuclear energy demand will be reversed. It will continue to grow, IAEA programme coordinator Alan McDonald was quoted as saying by Xinhua at the World Nuclear Fuel Cycle conference in Singapore.

McDonald said the IAEA had been constantly revising its growth forecasts upward for the nuclear energy industry amid a rosy picture in the several years before the Fukushima incident in March 2011.

However, the growth forecasts were cut substantially after the accident.

In one of its forecasts in 2012, the watchdog projected a total installed generating capacity in the range of 456 gigawatts to 740 gigawatts for the world by 2030, compared with 370 gigawatts at the time.

This represents a downward revision by nine percent and one percent from projections made in 2011 for the lower and upper ends of the range respectively.

“The accident has effectively delayed projected growth by 10 years, with the capacity that was projected for 2020 before the accident now being projected for 2030,” McDonald said.

Despite the revision, the installed capacity is still projected to grow by 25 percent to 100 percent by 2030, he added.

The World Nuclear Fuel Cycle is an annual event organised by the London-based World Nuclear Association and the US Nuclear Energy Institute.

There are now 433 nuclear reactors in operation around the world as of mid-2012, with 104 in the US, 58 in France, 50 in Japan, 33 in Russia and 23 in South Korea, according to statistics from the World Nuclear Association.

Asia is now by far the fastest growing market for nuclear energy. Of the 68 nuclear power reactors under construction now across the world, 46 are in Asia.

In March 2011, Japan was hit by a massive 9.0-magnitude quake which caused a tsunami, claiming over 15,000 lives and triggering a number of explosions at the Fukushima plant.

The tsunami caused a partial meltdown at three of the plant’s reactors. Radiation leaked into the atmosphere, soil and seawater, making the accident the world’s worst nuclear disaster after Chernobyl.

Japan will need at least 40 years to recover fully from the nuclear catastrophe, scientists say.

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