The possible environmental crisis in Fukushima made world leaders and non-governmental organizations appeal for revisions of nuclear policies around the world. The “safety first” call, however, will most probably meet the resistance of economic reasoning. The largest nuclear power producer, the United States, relies on nuclear power for about 20% (807 billion KWh a year) of its electricity.
Nuclear Energy as % of Total Electricity Produced (2010)
Chart provided by: CEIC Data
Given that the U.S. is actually importing electricity, a shut-down of its nuclear capacities is unlikely. Japan produces about 290 billion KWh of nuclear electricity, which is about 30% of the country’s total production. Even though currently suffering the consequences of the Fukushima accident, any replacements for these capacities will be inefficient for the upcoming decades. Russia relies on nuclear technology for about 16% (170 billion KWh) of its total electricity. China “only” produces 73 billion KWh, or about 1.8% of its total production, of nuclear electricity annually. The Chinese, however, have already invested in huge nuclear capacities and will be very hesitant to give up on this developing industry. Finally, a look at France clearly illustrates why nuclear power will most probably not be banned during the 21st century: The country produces about 390 billion KWh nuclear electricity, which is more than 70% of the country’s total consumption. It seems that, for the moment, the use of nuclear energy is an economically justified risk and even the disaster at Fukushima is not sufficient reason to ban nuclear energy.
By Ivan Enchev in Bulgaria – CEIC Analyst