Nuclear power ‘dead and alive’, S&P proclaims

(EurActiv, 13 Nov 2019) Growing competition from cheap renewable electricity, safety concerns, and rising costs of new plants are slowly driving nuclear power over the edge – except in Russia and China where the industry continues to enjoy extensive state support, S&P said in a note to investors.

It’s probably one of the worst kept secrets in the energy world: nuclear power wouldn’t be able to stand on its own feet without massive government support.

Now, S&P Global Ratings has made it plain and clear to investors.

“The global nuclear industry is facing challenges to do with safety concerns, tightening regulations post-Fukushima, phase-out policies in several countries, aging asset bases, increasingly volatile energy markets, and competition with renewables,” the rating agency wrote in the note, released on Monday (11 November).

“We see little economic rationale for new nuclear builds in the US or Western Europe, owing to massive cost escalations and renewables cost-competitiveness, which should lead to a material decline in nuclear generation by 2040,” S&P said.

But despite those challenges, it would be too soon to pronounce nuclear power dead, S&P adds. China and Russia, for instance, continue to build new nuclear capacities, supported by energy policies and significantly lower construction costs, the rating agency remarked.

In the US, Energy Secretary Rick Perry has touted small modular reactors (SMRs) as key to the industry’s future, saying small reactors could provide access to electricity in areas of the globe which are currently “shrouded in darkness”.

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EurActiv, 13 Nov 2019: Nuclear power ‘dead and alive’, S&P proclaims