Global Nuclear Industry
According to MarketLine research, the global nuclear industry is estimated to show a compound annual growth rate greater than 4.5% over the next four years, hitting a value of more than $272 billion by the close of 2015. At that point the industry’s volume will have grown more than 18% in five years to over 3,000 thousand Gigawatt hours (GWh).
Nuclear power involves the generation of heat from nuclear fission, which consists of energy production from the splitting of atoms into smaller parts. Fission normally takes the form of a nuclear reaction prompted by a neutron. Almost 70% of the global electricity demand is met by fossil fuels, 14% of which is derived from nuclear power, reports the International Energy Agency. As of September 2011, the total number of nuclear reactors generating electricity throughout the world reached nearly 435, spanning 30 countries. There are also 65 plants under construction throughout less than 15 countries, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute. In 15 countries, more than a quarter of electricity is generated from nuclear energy.
Nuclear power has been under increasing fire due to safety issues. Throughout a half-century of nuclear power generation, three major incidents have affected public and political opinion regarding nuclear energy. The incidents consisted of reactor damage in Three Mile Island in 1979, reactor destruction in Chernobyl in 1986 that resulted in over 30 deaths directly and serious fallout in health and environmental terms, and the meltdown of three Fukushima Daiichi reactors sparked after an earthquake and Tsunami in Japan in 2011. Despite fears as to the safety of nuclear power, the three accidents are the only major problems encountered in more than 14,500 cumulative reactor years of nuclear energy throughout over 30 countries, according to the World Nuclear Association (WNA).
Key Regional Market Share
- The US was the world’s top nuclear generating country in 2010, generating close to 810 billion kilowatt hours (kWh), followed by France at almost 408 billion kWh. According to the WNA, the US represents over 30% of global nuclear generation of electricity. There are over 100 nuclear reactors in operation throughout the US, producing more than a fifth of electrical output, and operated by 30 power companies. Leading names in the US nuclear industry include Exelon Generation Company, Dominion Resources, Duke Energy corporation, LLC, NextEra Energy and Entergy Nuclear, according to Global Data. Early in 2010, the US allocated close to $55 billion of federal loan guarantees to encourage nuclear power development.
- The EU accounts for almost 48% of the overall value of the global nuclear industry. In third place is Japan at almost 280 billion kWh, followed by Russia, Korea, and Germany generating 155 billion kWh, 142 billion kWh, and 133 billion kWh respectively, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency. In 2010, France generated close to three quarters of its electricity from nuclear energy followed by Slovakia and Belgium at almost 52% and just over 51% respectively. Japan’s nuclear energy industry had a value exceeding $30 billion in 2010, forecast to fall to just over $29.5 billion by the close of 2015, according to MarketLine.
Top power companies in the nuclear market include AREVA, Candu Energy, Korea Electric Power Company, GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, Westinghouse Electric Company and Toshiba.
The global population stands at 6.5 billion and is forecast to reach 9 billion within the next three decades. Power industries are expanding to meet increasing demand. With a target of 70% reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions to be reached in the same period, as advised by the UN, environmental and safety factors are key. The capacity for nuclear power production globally lies between 16% and 17%, reports the WNA. The degree of reliance on nuclear power will depend largely on environmental policy and opinion as to its safety.
Leading Industry Associations
- International Atomic Energy Agency www.iaea.org
- World Nuclear Association www.world-nuclear.org
- American Nuclear Society www.new.ans.org
- Nuclear Energy Institute www.nei.org
- European Nuclear Society www.euronuclear.org
- China Nuclear Energy Association www.china-nea.cn
- Japan Nuclear Energy Safety Organization www.jnes.go.jp