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Canada has emerged as one of the few bright spots in the latest International Atomic Energy Agency report, which cast a looming, Fukushima-shaped shadow on the wider industry.
The country’s nuclear-energy sector raised capacity by 35 megawatts last year and increased its contribution to total electricity to 15.3% from 14.8% in 2010, says the IAEA report, published late last month.
These improvements may seem incremental but they come at a time of great hardship for the global industry. An earthquake, followed by a tsunami, in 2011 left the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan — and the global industry — in a perilous state.
Nuclear power plants have always wrestled with a public relations problem, but the twin Japanese blows shook the industry. Japan, the second-largest producer of nuclear energy in the world and seen as a model for many energy-poor states, retired 12 nuclear power plants in the immediate aftermath of the disaster.
“The Fukushima Daiichi accident resulted in a slowing of the expansion of nuclear power but did not reverse it,” says the IAEA in its latest report. Still, the agency’s post-accident projections of global nuclear power capacity in 2030 were 7–8% lower than its previous estimates.
The agency expects 90 new nuclear power plant to come online by 2030 globally in a low-projection scenario, with much of the new installations coming in emerging economies.
“Of the 64 new power reactors under construction at the end of 2011, 26 were in China, 10 in the Russian Federation, 6 in India and 5 in the Republic of Korea. However, some countries, such as Germany, decided to phase out and discontinue the use of nuclear power.”
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