Nuclear power phase-out
A nuclear power phase-out is the discontinuation of usage of nuclear power for energy production. Often initiated because of concerns about nuclear power, phase-outs usually include shutting down nuclear power plants and looking towards renewable energy and other fuels.
Austria was the first country to begin a phase-out (in 1978) and has been followed by Sweden (1980), Italy (1987), Belgium (1999), and Germany (2000). Austria and Spain have gone as far as to enact laws not to build new nuclear power stations. Several other European countries have debated phase-outs.
Following the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, Germany has permanently shut down eight of its reactors and pledged to close the rest by 2022. The Italians have voted overwhelmingly to keep their country non-nuclear. Switzerland and Spain have banned the construction of new reactors. Japan’s prime minster has called for a dramatic reduction in Japan’s reliance on nuclear power. Taiwan’s president did the same. Mexico has sidelined construction of 10 reactors in favor of developing natural-gas-fired plants. Belgium is considering phasing out its nuclear plants, perhaps as early as 2015.
As of November 2011, countries such as Australia, Austria, Denmark, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Israel, Malaysia, New Zealand, and Norway have no nuclear power reactors and remain opposed to nuclear power. However, by contrast, some countries remain in favor, and financially support nuclear fusion research, including EU wide funding of the ITER project.
A popular movement against nuclear power has gained strength in the Western world, based on concerns about more nuclear accidents and concerns about nuclear waste. Anti-nuclear critics see nuclear power as a dangerous, expensive way to boil water to generate electricity. The 1979 Three Mile Island accident and the 1986 Chernobyl disaster played a key role in stopping new plant construction in many countries. Major anti-nuclear power groups include Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, Nuclear Information and Resource Service, and Sortir du nucléaire (France).
Several countries, especially European countries, have abandoned the use of nuclear energy since 1987. Austria (1978), Sweden (1980) and Italy (1987) voted in referendums to oppose or phase out nuclear power, while opposition in Ireland prevented a nuclear program there. Countries that have no nuclear plants and have restricted new plant constructions comprise Australia, Austria, Denmark, Greece, Italy, Ireland and Norway. Poland stopped the construction of a plant. Belgium, Germany, Spain, and Sweden decided not to build new plants or intend to phase out nuclear power, although still mostly relying on nuclear energy.
New reactors under construction in Finland and France, which were meant to lead a nuclear new build, have been substantially delayed and are running over-budget. However, China has 27 new reactors under construction, and there are also new reactors being built in South Korea, India, and Russia. At least 100 older and smaller reactors will "most probably be closed over the next 10-15 years".
Countries that wish to shut down nuclear power plants must find alternatives for electricity generation; otherwise, they are forced to become dependent on imports. Therefore, the discussion of a future for nuclear energy is intertwined with a discussion of renewable energy commercialization. Alternatives to nuclear power include hydroelectricity, wind power, solar energy, biomass and other renewable energy sources.
Countries that have decided a phase out 
A nuclear power station was built during the 1970s at Zwentendorf, Austria, but its start-up was prevented by a popular vote in 1978. On July 9, 1997, the Austrian Parliament voted unanimously to maintain the country's anti-nuclear policy.
Belgium's nuclear phase-out legislation was agreed in July 1999 by the Liberals (VLD and MR), the Socialists (SP.A and PS) and the Greens party (Groen! and Ecolo). The phase-out law calls for each of Belgium's seven reactors to close after 40 years of operation with no new reactors built subsequently. When the law was being passed, it was speculated it would be overturned again as soon as an administration without the Greens was in power.
In 2003, a new government was elected without the Greens. In September 2005, the government decided to partially overturn the previous decision, extending the phase-out period for another 20 years, with possible further extensions. It remains unknown if additional nuclear plants will be built.
In July 2005, the Federal Planning Bureau published a new report, which states that oil and other fossil fuels generate 90% of Belgian energy use, while nuclear power accounts for 9% and renewable energy for 1%. Electricity only amounts to 16% of total energy use, and while nuclear-powered electricity amounts to 9% of use in Belgium, in many parts of Belgium, especially in Flanders, it makes up more than 50% of the electricity provided to households and businesses. This was one of the major reasons to revert the earlier phase-out, since it was impossible to provide more than 50% of the electricity by 'alternative' energy-production, and a revert to the classical coal-driven electricity would mean inability to adhere to the Kyoto Protocol.
It is projected that within 25 years renewable energy will increase to at most 5% of the energy use, because of high costs. The current plan of the Government is for all nuclear power stations to shut down by 2025. The report raises concerns about greenhouse gases and sustainability.
In August 2005, French SUEZ offered to buy the Belgian Electrabel, which runs nuclear power stations. End of 2005, Suez had some 98.5% of all Electrabel shares. Beginning 2006, Suez and Gaz de France announced a merger.
In 2000, the German government, consisting of the SPD and Alliance '90/The Greens officially announced its intention to phase out the use of nuclear energy. Jürgen Trittin (from the German Greens) as the Minister of Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, reached an agreement with energy companies on the gradual shut down of the country's nineteen nuclear power plants and a cessation of power-generation (non-research) use of nuclear power by 2020. This was enacted as the Nuclear Exit Law. Based on the calculation of 32 years as the usual time of operation for a nuclear power plant, the agreement precisely tells how much energy a power plant is allowed to produce before being closed down.
A Renewable Energy Sources Act provided for a tax in support of renewable energy. The German government, declaring climate protection as a key policy issue, announced a carbon dioxide reduction target by the year 2005 compared to 1990 by 25%. In 1998, the use of renewables in Germany reached 284 PJ of primary energy demand, which corresponds to 5% of the total electricity demand. By 2010 the German Government wants to reach 10%.
Anti-nuclear activists have argued the German government had been supportive of nuclear power by providing financial guarantees for energy providers. Also it has been pointed out, there were, as yet, no plans for the final storage of nuclear waste. By tightening safety regulations and increasing taxation, a faster end to nuclear power could have been forced. A gradual closing down of nuclear power plants had come along with concessions in questions of safety for the population with transport of nuclear waste throughout Germany. This latter point has been disagreed with by the Minister of Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety.
Critics of a phase-out in Germany argue that the power output from the nuclear power stations will not be adequately compensated and predict an energy crisis. They also argue that only coal-powered plants could compensate for nuclear power and CO2 emissions will increase tremendously (with the use of oil and fossils). Energy may have to be imported from France's nuclear power facilities, no small irony, Russian natural gas, despite the fact that Russia is still not perceived as a safe partner in much of Western Europe.
Because of increasing prices for fossil fuels, arguments for a "phase-out of the phase-out" were again discussed. In the federal election in 2002 the candidate for chancellor of the CDU/CSU, Edmund Stoiber, promised, in the event he would win, to cancel the phase-out. His successor and current German chancellor Angela Merkel announced plans to negotiate with energy companies the time limit for a shut down of nuclear power stations. The battle over nuclear energy, that was set to be a key issue in coalition talks between CDU and SPD, was settled in favor of a phase-out during the term of the Grand Coalition government (2005–09). However, when Merkel was re-elected chancellor with the support of the FDP following the 2009 Bundestag elections, her government passed a law extending the operating lives of the country's 17 nuclear power plants by 8–14 years each. Then, in March 2011, after the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan, the Merkel government reversed course. It immediately shut down about 40% of its nuclear generating capacity (8 of 17 plants) and announced plans to shut all other nuclear plants within a decade.
Currently Germany is most visibly trying to accomplish such a transition. Its Nuclear phase-out and switch to other fuels is estimated to require $340 billion worth of investments over the next 10 years.  Opponents of the plan point out that the shutdown of 8 reactors in 2011 increased the carbon emissions and electricity prices in Germany. There are further fears that the trend to close down very polluting coal fuelled power plants in Europe will be reversed. In addition it was argued that closing down Germany's relatively modern nuclear power stations caused Russia to extend the lifetime of its ageing and less safe RBMK reactors. To enable it to export more of its natural gas to Germany. Despite fears of an electricity shortage, Germany was a net exporter or electricity in 2012 to the tune of an estimated 14.7 TWh, this due to the rapid expansion of renewable energy sources. However concerns remain about supply security during cold days with little wind.
Nuclear power phase-out commenced in Italy in 1987, one year after the Chernobyl accident. Following a referendum in that year, Italy's four nuclear power plants were closed down, the last in 1990. A moratorium on the construction of new plants, originally in effect from 1987 until 1993, has since been extended indefinitely.
In recent years, Italy has been an importer of nuclear-generated electricity, and its largest electricity utility Enel S.p.A. has been investing both in reactors in France and Slovakia to provide this electricity in the future, and also in the development of the EPR technology.
In October 2005 there was a seminar sponsored by the government about the possibility of reviving Italian nuclear power. The fourth cabinet led by Silvio Berlusconi tried to implement a new nuclear plan but a referendum held in June 2011 stopped any project.
Once a nuclear proponent, Prime Minister Naoto Kan became increasingly anti-nuclear following the Fukushima nuclear disaster. In May 2011, he closed the aging Hamaoka Nuclear Power Plant over earthquake and tsunami fears, and said he would freeze plans to build new reactors. In July 2011, Mr. Kan said that "Japan should reduce and eventually eliminate its dependence on nuclear energy ... saying that the Fukushima accident had demonstrated the dangers of the technology". In August 2011, the Japanese Government passed a bill to subsidize electricity from renewable energy sources. A 2011 Japanese Cabinet energy white paper, says "public confidence in safety of nuclear power was greatly damaged" by the Fukushima disaster, and calls for a reduction in the nation’s reliance on nuclear power. As of August 2011, the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant is still leaking low levels of radioactivity and areas surrounding it could remain uninhabitable for decades.
The last of Japan's 54 reactors (Tomari-3) went offline for maintenance on May 5, 2012, leaving Japan completely without nuclear-produced electrical power for the first time since 1970. Despite protests, on 1 July 2012 unit 3 of the Ōi Nuclear Power Plant was restarted. As of September 2012, Ōi units 3 and 4 are Japan's only operating nuclear power plants, although the city and prefecture of Osaka have requested they be shut down.
In the Philippines, in 2004, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo outlined her energy policy. She wants to increase indigenous oil and gas reserves through exploration, develop alternative energy resources, enforce the development of natural gas as a fuel and coco diesel as alternative fuel, and build partnerships with Saudi Arabia, Asian countries, China and Russia. She also made public plans to convert the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant into a gas powered facility.
After Three Mile Island accident (United States) in 1979, there was a referendum in Sweden about the future of nuclear power there. As a result of this, the Swedish parliament decided in 1980 that no further nuclear power plants should be built, and that a nuclear power phase-out should be completed by 2010. Some observers have condemned the referendum as flawed because people could only vote "NO to nuclear", although three options were basically a harder or a softer "NO".
After the 1986 Chernobyl accident in Ukraine, the question of security of nuclear energy was again raised. In 1997 the Riksdag, the Swedish parliament, decided to shut down one of the reactors at Barsebäck by July 1, 1998 and the second before July 1, 2001, although under the condition that their energy production would be compensated. The next conservative government tried to cancel the phase-out, but, after protests, did not cancel it but instead decided to extend the time limit to 2010. At Barsebäck, block 1 was shut down on November 30, 1999 and block 2 on June 1, 2005.
The nuclear energy phase-out is controversial in Sweden. It is feared that Sweden will lose its international competititiveness. The energy production of the remaining nuclear power plants has been considerably increased in recent years to compensate for the turn off of Barsebäck. In 1998, the government decided to build no further hydropower plants in order to protect national water resources. In spite of extensive efforts to create alternatives to nuclear power, such as fossil fuels, it is not likely that Sweden can complete the nuclear power phase-out by 2010. It has been estimated that nuclear power plants in operation will stay in operation until 2050.
In March 2005, an opinion poll of 1027 people showed 83% support for maintaining or increasing nuclear power. Another poll in May, of residents that lived around Barsebäck, found that 94% wanted it to stay. In June 2005, radioactive water was detected leaking from the nuclear waste store in Forsmark, Sweden. The content of radioactive caesium in the water sampled was ten times the normal value. wikinews:Radioactive leakage at Swedish nuclear waste store. This has, however, not led to a major change in public opinion. In 2006 the Centre Party of Sweden, an opposition party that supported the phase-out, announced that it is dropping its opposition to nuclear power, at least for now, claiming that it is unrealistic to expect the phase-out in the short term. It said it will now support the opposition, which is considerably more pro-nuclear than the government.
In August 2006 three of Sweden's ten nuclear reactors were shut down due to safety concerns following an incident at Forsmark Nuclear Power Plant, in which two out of four emergency power generators failed causing power shortage. . Cooling systems however worked and shutdown was successful without incident. Another reactor in Forsmark and a fifth at Ringhals nuclear power plant have been offline due to planned maintenance work. With five of its ten reactors down, Sweden's power generation capacity is down by almost a fifth. wikinews:Swedish nuclear reactors shut down over safety concerns
In 2010 Parliament halted the phase-out policy, allowing for new reactors to replace existing ones.
In Switzerland there have been many referenda on the topic of nuclear energy, beginning in 1979 with a citizens' initiative for nuclear safety, which was rejected. In 1984, there was a vote on an initiative "for a future without further nuclear power stations" with the result being a 55 to 45% vote against. On September 23, 1990 Switzerland had two more referenda about nuclear power. The initiative "stop the construction of nuclear power stations," which proposed a ten-year moratorium on the construction of new nuclear power plants, was passed with 54.5% to 45.5%. The initiative for a phase-out was rejected with by 53% to 47.1%. In 2000 there was a vote on a Green Tax for support of solar energy. It was rejected by 67–31%. On May 18, 2003, there were two referenda: "Electricity without Nuclear," asking for a decision on a nuclear power phase-out, and "Moratorium Plus," for an extension of the earlier decided moratorium on the construction of new nuclear power plants. Both were turned down. The results were: Moratorium Plus: 41.6% Yes, 58.4% No; Electricity without Nuclear: 33.7% Yes, 66.3% No.
The program of the "Electricity without Nuclear" petition was to shut down all nuclear power stations by 2033, starting with Unit 1 and 2 of Beznau nuclear power stations, Mühleberg in 2005, Gösgen in 2009, and Leibstadt in 2014. "Moratorium Plus" was for an extension of the moratorium for another 10 years, and additionally a condition to stop the present reactors after 40 years of operation. In order to extend the 40 years by 10 more years another referendum would have to be held (at high administrative costs). The rejection of the Moratorium Plus had come to surprise to many, as opinion polls before the referendum have showed acceptance. Reasons for the rejections in both cases were seen in the worsened economic situation.
As of 2005, Switzerland has five nuclear reactors at Beznau (Beznau 1 and 2), Gösgen, Leibstadt, and Mühleberg, and around 40% of its electricity is generated by nuclear power. Another 60% comes from hydroelectricity.
Other significant places 
In Ireland, a nuclear power plant was first proposed in 1968. It was to be built during the 1970s at Carnsore Point in County Wexford. The plan called for first one, then ultimately four plants to be built at the site, but it was dropped after strong opposition from environmental groups, and Ireland has remained without nuclear power since. Despite opposing nuclear power (and nuclear fuel reprocessing at Sellafield), Ireland is to open an interconnector to the mainland UK to buy electricity, which is, in some part, the product of nuclear power.
Slovenian nuclear plant in Krško (co-owned with Croatia) is scheduled to be closed by 2023, and there are no plans to build further nuclear plants. The debate on whether and when to close the Krško plant was somewhat intensified after the 2005/06 winter energy crisis. In May 2006 the Ljubljana-based daily Dnevnik claimed Slovenian government officials internally proposed adding a new 1000 MW block into Krško after the year 2020.
Greece operates only a single small nuclear reactor in the Greek National Physics Research Laboratory in Demokritus Laboratories for research purposes.
The future of nuclear power in the United Kingdom is currently under review. The country has a number of reactors which are currently reaching the end of their working life, and it is currently undecided how they will be replaced. The UK is also currently failing to reach its targets for reduction on CO2 emissions, which situation may be made worse if new nuclear power stations are not built. The UK also uses a large proportion of gas-fired power stations, which produce relatively low CO2 emissions, but there have been recent difficulties in obtaining adequate gas supplies. The UK government has just appointed a new pro-nuclear energy minister.
The Netherlands 
In the Netherlands, in 1994, the Dutch parliament voted to phase out after a discussion of nuclear waste management. The power station at Dodewaard was shut down in 1997. In 1997 the government decided to end Borssele's operating license, at the end of 2003. In 2003 the shut-down was postponed by the government to 2013. In 2005 the decision was reversed and research in expanding nuclear power has been initiated. Reversal was preceded by the publication of the Christian Democratic Appeal's report on sustainable energy. Other coalition parties then conceded. In 2006 the government decided that Borssele will remain open until 2033, if it can comply with the highest safety standards. The owners, Essent and DELTA will invest 500 million euro in sustainable energy, together with the government, money which the government claims otherwise should have been paid to the plants owners as compensation.
New Zealand enacted the New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament, and Arms Control Act 1987 which prohibits the stationing of nuclear weapons on the territory of New Zealand and the entry into New Zealand waters of nuclear armed or propelled ships. This Act of Parliament, however, does not prevent the construction of nuclear power plants.
In Australia there are no nuclear power plants. Australia has very extensive, low-cost coal reserves and substantial natural gas and majority political opinion is still opposed to domestic nuclear power on both environmental and economic grounds. However, a number of prominent politicians have begun to advocate nuclear power as a means to affordably reduce greenhouse emissions and perhaps allow for large-scale de-salination plants.
For North Korea, two PWRs at Kumho were under construction until that was suspended in November 2003. On September 19, 2005 North Korea pledged to stop building nuclear weapons and agreed to international inspections in return for energy aid, which may include one or more light water reactors – the agreement said "The other parties expressed their respect and agreed to discuss at an appropriate time the subject of the provision of light-water reactor" [sic].
United States 
39 reactors have had their licences renewed, three Early Site Permits have been applied for, and three consortiums have applied for Combined Construction-Operating Licences under the Nuclear Power 2010 Program. In addition, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 contains incentives to further expand nuclear power. Construction of the new AP1000 design is underway at 2 locations in the United States in Georgia and South Carolina. Some smaller reactors operating in deregulated markets have become uneconomic to operate and maintain, due to competition from generators using low priced natural gas, and may be retired early. The 556 MWe Kewaunee Power Station is being closed 20 years before license expiry for these economic reasons.
South America 
In Argentina, about 6% of the electricity comes from 2 operational reactors: The Embalse Río Tercero plant, a CANDU6 reactor, and the Atucha 1 plant, a PHWR German design. In 2001, the plant was modified to burn Slightly Enriched Uranium, making it the first PHWR reactor to burn that fuel worldwide. Atucha originally was planned to be a complex with various reactors. Atucha 2 (similar to Aucha 1 but more powerful) is actually more than half-built, however it never entered into operation. Argentina also has some other research reactors, and exports nuclear technology.
Pros and cons of nuclear power 
The nuclear debate 
The nuclear power debate is about the controversy which has surrounded the deployment and use of nuclear fission reactors to generate electricity from nuclear fuel for civilian purposes. The debate about nuclear power peaked during the 1970s and 1980s, when it "reached an intensity unprecedented in the history of technology controversies", in some countries.
Proponents of nuclear energy argue that nuclear power is a sustainable energy source which reduces carbon emissions and can increase energy security if its use supplants a dependence on imported fuels. Proponents advance the notion that nuclear power produces virtually no air pollution, in contrast to the chief viable alternative of fossil fuel. Proponents also believe that nuclear power is the only viable course to achieve energy independence for most Western countries. They emphasize that the risks of storing waste are small and can be further reduced by using the latest technology in newer reactors, and the operational safety record in the Western world is excellent when compared to the other major kinds of power plants.
Opponents say that nuclear power poses many threats to people and the environment. These threats include health risks and environmental damage from uranium mining, processing and transport, the risk of nuclear weapons proliferation or sabotage, and the unsolved problem of radioactive nuclear waste. They also contend that reactors themselves are enormously complex machines where many things can and do go wrong, and there have been many serious nuclear accidents. Critics do not believe that these risks can be reduced through new technology. They argue that when all the energy-intensive stages of the nuclear fuel chain are considered, from uranium mining to nuclear decommissioning, nuclear power is not a low-carbon electricity source.
The economics of new nuclear power plants is a controversial subject, since there are diverging views on this topic, and multi-billion dollar investments ride on the choice of an energy source. Nuclear power plants typically have high capital costs for building the plant, but low direct fuel costs (with much of the costs of fuel extraction, processing, use and long term storage externalized). Therefore, comparison with other power generation methods is strongly dependent on assumptions about construction timescales and capital financing for nuclear plants. Cost estimates also need to take into account plant decommissioning and nuclear waste storage costs. On the other hand measures to mitigate global warming, such as a carbon tax or carbon emissions trading, may favor the economics of nuclear power versus fossil fuels.
In recent years there has been a slowdown of electricity demand growth and financing has become more difficult, which has an impact on large projects such as nuclear reactors, with very large upfront costs and long project cycles which carry a large variety of risks. In Eastern Europe, a number of long-established projects are struggling to find finance, notably Belene in Bulgaria and the additional reactors at Cernavoda in Romania, and some potential backers have pulled out. Where cheap gas is available and its future supply relatively secure, this also poses a major problem for nuclear projects.
Analysis of the economics of nuclear power must take into account who bears the risks of future uncertainties. To date all operating nuclear power plants were developed by state-owned or regulated utility monopolies where many of the risks associated with construction costs, operating performance, fuel price, and other factors were borne by consumers rather than suppliers. Many countries have now liberalized the electricity market where these risks, and the risk of cheaper competitors emerging before capital costs are recovered, are borne by plant suppliers and operators rather than consumers, which leads to a significantly different evaluation of the economics of new nuclear power plants.
Following the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, costs are likely to go up for currently operating and new nuclear power plants, due to increased requirements for on-site spent fuel management and elevated design basis threats.
The routine health risks and greenhouse gas emissions from nuclear fission power are small relative to those associated with coal, but there are "catastrophic risks" such as the possibility of over-heated fuel releasing massive quantities of fission products to the environment. The public is sensitive to these risks and there has been considerable public opposition to nuclear power. The 1979 Three Mile Island accident and 1986 Chernobyl disaster, along with high construction costs, ended the rapid growth of global nuclear power capacity.
In March 2011 an earthquake and tsunami caused damage that led to explosions and partial meltdowns at the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant in Japan. Concerns about the possibility of a large scale release of radioactivity resulted in 20 km exclusion zone being set up around the power plant and people within the 20–30 km zone being advised to stay indoors. John Price, a former member of the Safety Policy Unit at the UK's National Nuclear Corporation, has said that it "might be 100 years before melting fuel rods can be safely removed from Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant".
The impact of nuclear accidents has been a topic of debate practically since the first nuclear reactors were constructed. It has also been a key factor in public concern about nuclear facilities. Some technical measures to reduce the risk of accidents or to minimize the amount of radioactivity released to the environment have been adopted. Despite the use of such measures, "there have been many accidents with varying impacts as well near misses and incidents".
Benjamin K. Sovacool has reported that worldwide there have been 99 accidents at nuclear power plants. Fifty-seven accidents have occurred since the Chernobyl disaster, and 57% (56 out of 99) of all nuclear-related accidents have occurred in the USA. Serious nuclear power plant accidents include the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster (2011), Chernobyl disaster (1986), Three Mile Island accident (1979), and the SL-1 accident (1961). Stuart Arm states, "apart from Chernobyl, no nuclear workers or members of the public have ever died as a result of exposure to radiation due to a commercial nuclear reactor incident."
Nuclear safety covers the actions taken to prevent nuclear and radiation accidents or to limit their consequences. This covers nuclear power plants as well as all other nuclear facilities, the transportation of nuclear materials, and the use and storage of nuclear materials for medical, power, industry, and military uses.
Although there is no way to guarantee that a reactor will always be designed, built and operated safely, the nuclear power industry has improved the safety and performance of reactors, and has proposed safer reactor designs, though many of these designs have yet to be tested at industrial or commercial scales. Mistakes do occur and the designers of reactors at Fukushima in Japan did not anticipate that a tsunami generated by an earthquake would disable the backup systems that were supposed to stabilize the reactor after the earthquake. According to UBS AG, the Fukushima I nuclear accidents have cast doubt on whether even an advanced economy like Japan can master nuclear safety. Catastrophic scenarios involving terrorist attacks are also conceivable.
An interdisciplinary team from MIT have estimated that given the expected growth of nuclear power from 2005 – 2055, at least four serious nuclear accidents would be expected in that period. To date, there have been five serious accidents (core damage) in the world since 1970 (one at Three Mile Island in 1979; one at Chernobyl in 1986; and three at Fukushima-Daiichi in 2011), corresponding to the beginning of the operation of generation II reactors. This leads to on average one serious accident happening every eight years worldwide. Despite these accidents, the safety record of nuclear power, in terms of lives lost per unit of electricity delivered, is better than every other major source of power in the world. However, the nuclear power industry relies on uranium mining, which itself is a hazardous industry, with many accidents and fatalities.
Alternatives to nuclear 
Renewable energy is energy that comes from resources which are continually replenished such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves and geothermal heat. About 16% of global final energy consumption comes from renewable resources, with 10% of all energy from traditional biomass, mainly used for heating, and 3.4% from hydroelectricity. New renewables (small hydro, modern biomass, wind, solar, geothermal, and biofuels) accounted for another 3% and are growing very rapidly. The share of renewables in electricity generation is around 19%, with 16% of electricity coming from hydroelectricity and 3% from new renewables.
The use of wind power is increasing at an annual rate of 20%, with a worldwide installed capacity of 238,000 megawatts (MW) at the end of 2011, and is widely used in Europe, Asia, and the United States. Since 2004, photovoltaics passed wind as the fastest growing energy source, and since 2007 has more than doubled every two years. At the end of 2011 the photovoltaic (PV) capacity worldwide was 67,000 MW, and PV power stations are popular in Germany and Italy. Solar thermal power stations operate in the USA and Spain, and the largest of these is the 354 MW SEGS power plant in the Mojave Desert. The world's largest geothermal power installation is the Geysers in California, with a rated capacity of 750 MW. Brazil has one of the largest renewable energy programs in the world, involving production of ethanol fuel from sugarcane, and ethanol now provides 18% of the country's automotive fuel. Ethanol fuel is also widely available in the USA.
Climate change concerns, coupled with high oil prices, peak oil, and increasing government support, are driving increasing renewable energy legislation, incentives and commercialization. New government spending, regulation and policies helped the industry weather the global financial crisis better than many other sectors. According to a 2011 projection by the International Energy Agency, solar power generators may produce most of the world’s electricity within 50 years, dramatically reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases that harm the environment.
See also 
- Anti-nuclear movement
- Energy conservation
- Energy development
- List of energy topics
- Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
- Nuclear energy policy
- Nuclear power controversy
- Oil phase-out in Sweden
- Nuclear power in France
- Renewable energy commercialization
- Wind power
- Annika Breidthardt (May 30, 2011). "German government wants nuclear exit by 2022 at latest". Reuters.
- "Italy Nuclear Referendum Results". June 13, 2011.
- Henry Sokolski (November 28, 2011). "Nuclear Power Goes Rogue". Newsweek.
- Tsuyoshi Inajima and Yuji Okada (October 28, 2011). "Nuclear Promotion Dropped in Japan Energy Policy After Fukushima". Bloomberg.
- Carlos Manuel Rodriguez (November 4, 2011). "Mexico Scraps Plans to Build 10 Nuclear Power Plants in Favor of Using Gas". Bloomberg Businessweek.
- Duroyan Fertl (June 5, 2011). "Germany: Nuclear power to be phased out by 2022". Green Left.
- "Nuclear power: When the steam clears". The Economist. March 24, 2011.
- Herbert P. Kitschelt. Political Opportunity and Political Protest: Anti-Nuclear Movements in Four Democracies British Journal of Political Science, Vol. 16, No. 1, 1986, p. 71.
- Helen Caldicott (2006). Nuclear Power is Not the Answer to Global Warming or Anything Else, Melbourne University Press, ISBN 0-522-85251-3, p. xvii
- Netherlands: Court case on closure date Borssele NPP, article from anti-nuclear organization (WISE), dated June 29, 2001.
- Nuclear Power in the World Energy Outlook, by the Uranium Institute, 1999.
- Anti-nuclear resolution of the Austrian Parliament, as summarised by an anti-nuclear organisation (WISE).
- Nuclear news from Poland, article from the Web site of the European Nuclear Society, April 2005.
- Germany Starts Nuclear Energy Phase-Out, article from Deutsche Welle, November 14, 2003.
- James Kanter. In Finland, Nuclear Renaissance Runs Into Trouble New York Times, May 28, 2009.
- James Kanter. Is the Nuclear Renaissance Fizzling? Green, 29 May 2009.
- Rob Broomby. Nuclear dawn delayed in Finland BBC News, 8 July 2009.
- Nuclear Power in China
- Michael Dittmar. Taking stock of nuclear renaissance that never was Sydney Morning Herald, August 18, 2010.
- "Coalition of Nuclear-Free Countries". WISE News Communique. September 26, 1997. Retrieved 2006-05-19.
- Ruffles, Philip; Michael Burdekin, Charles Curtis, Brian Eyre, Geoff Hewitt, William Wilkinson (July 2003). "An Essential Programme to Underpin Government Policy on Nuclear Power" (PDF). Nuclear Task Force. Retrieved 2012-09-11.
- Henry, Alain (July 12, 2005), Quelle énergie pour un développement durable ?, Working Paper 14-05 (in French), Federal Planning Bureau.
- Addicted to nuclear energy? < Belgian news | Expatica Belgium. Expatica.com. Retrieved on 2011-06-04.
- Kanter, James (2005-08-10). "Big French Utility Offers a Full Buyout in Belgium". The New York Times.
- "Belgium plans to phase out nuclear power". BBC News. 2011-10-31.
- German nuclear energy phase-out begins with first plant closure. Terradaily.com (2003-11-14). Retrieved on 2011-06-04.
- [dead link]
- 'Nuclear phase-out in Germany and the Challenges for Nuclear Regulation'. Bmu.de. Retrieved on 2011-06-04.
- "Germany split over green energy". BBC News. 2005-02-25.
- [dead link]
- Tickermeldung. Rhein-zeitung.de (2009-01-27). Retrieved on 2011-06-04.
- German Parties Set to Clash Over Nuclear Power | Germany | Deutsche Welle | 30.10.2005. Dw-world.de. Retrieved on 2011-06-04.
- http://www.cbc.ca/cp/world/051114/w111436.html. Missing or empty
|title=(help)[dead link][dead link]
- Laufzeitverlängerung von Atomkraftwerken zugestimmt, Deutscher Bundestag | Dokumente | Textarchiv | 2010. http://www.bundestag.de/dokumente/textarchiv/2010/32009392_kw43_de_atompolitik/index.html, accessed 21 May 2012.
- Germany's nuclear power phaseout turns off environmentalists, Los Angeles Times, April 20, 2012. http://articles.latimes.com/2012/apr/20/world/la-fg-germany-nuclear-20120421 accessed 21 May 2012.
- The German switch from nuclear to renewables – myths and facts, Renewables International: The Magazine, 09.03.2012. http://www.renewablesinternational.net/the-german-switch-from-nuclear-to-renewables-myths-and-facts/150/537/33308/ accessed 21 May 2012.
- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111904563904576584831235317422.html The Wall Street Journal Russia to Extend Life of Aging Reactors Chernobyl-Style Design Is Among Those That Nuclear Official Says Would Stay in Service; West Has Pushed for Shutdowns
- "Deutschland exportiert so viel Strom wie nie". SpiegelOnline. 09.11.2012. Retrieved 1 January 2013.
- "Renewable energy sources are booming in Germany, and electric utilities exported more power in 2012 than ever before. But energy experts warn that what sounds like progress has its downsides.". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 1 January 2013.
- "Prospettive dell'energia nucleare in Italia". Retrieved 5 May 2012.
- Martin Fackler (June 1, 2011). "Report Finds Japan Underestimated Tsunami Danger". New York Times.
- Hiroko Tabuchi (July 13, 2011). "Japan Premier Wants Shift Away From Nuclear Power". New York Times.
- Chisaki Watanabe (August 26, 2011). "Japan Spurs Solar, Wind Energy With Subsidies, in Shift From Nuclear Power". Bloomberg.
- Tsuyoshi Inajima and Yuji Okada (Oct 28, 2011). "Nuclear Promotion Dropped in Japan Energy Policy After Fukushima". Bloomberg.
- "Areas near Japan nuclear plant may be off limits for decades". Reuters. August 27, 2011.
- David Batty (May 5, 2012). "Japan shuts down last working nuclear reactor". The Guardian.
- Gerhardt, Tina (22 July 2012). "After Fukushima, Nuclear Power on Collision Course with Japanese Public". Alternet.
- Osaka governments call for shutdown of Oi nuclear plant
- [dead link]
- Centre dumps nuclear deal – The Local. Thelocal.se (2011-05-29). Retrieved on 2011-06-04.
- Vindkraftverk möter största motståndet i Skåne – Omkretsen – Sydsvenskan – Nyheter dygnet runt. Sydsvenskan.se (2005-08-15). Retrieved on 2011-06-04.
- NEWS Event not Available[dead link]. News.iaea.org. Retrieved on 2011-06-04.
- Vattenfall – QuickLink. Ringhals.se. Retrieved on 2011-06-04.
- "Sweden to replace existing nuclear plants with new ones". BBC News Online. 18 June 2010.
- Bundesamt für Energie BFE – Startseite[dead link]. Energie-schweiz.ch. Retrieved on 2011-06-04.
- [dead link]
- «Mutiger Entscheid» bis «Kurzschlusshandlung» (Politik, Schweiz, NZZ Online). Nzz.ch. Retrieved on 2011-06-04.
- Schweiz plant Atomausstieg – Schweiz – derStandard.at › International. Derstandard.at. Retrieved on 2011-06-04.
- "Spain halts nuclear power". WISE News Communique. May 24, 1991. Retrieved 2006-05-19.
- "Nuclear Power in Spain". World Nuclear Association. May 2006. Retrieved 2006-05-19.[dead link]
- "404 error". Retrieved 2006-05-19.[dead link]
- "Significant nuclear-related news items in perspective". Uranium Information Centre weekly digest. 12 May 2006. ISSN 1326-4907. Retrieved 2006-05-19.
- [dead link]
- [dead link]
- [dead link]
- Uranium mining – dollars for death | Green Left Weekly. Greenleft.org.au (2005-08-10). Retrieved on 2011-06-04.
- EIA – 1000 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20585[dead link]. Eia.doe.gov. Retrieved on 2011-06-04.
- [dead link]
- [dead link]
- "Plans For New Reactors Worldwide – Nuclear Issues Briefing Paper 19". April 2005. Retrieved 2006-05-19.
- [dead link]
- "Some merchant nuclear plants could face early retirement: UBS". Platts. 9 January 2013. Retrieved 10 January 2013.
- "Dominion To Close, Decommission Kewaunee Power Station". Dominion. 22 October 2012. Retrieved 28 February 2013.
- Caroline Peachey (1 January 2013). "Why are North American plants dying?". Nuclear Engineering International. Retrieved 28 February 2013.
- Brazil plans to build seven nuclear reactors — MercoPress. Mercopress.com. Retrieved on 2011-06-04.
- South Africa Information – Nuclear Power Plants of the World. Icjt.org. Retrieved on 2011-06-04.
- "Sunday Dialogue: Nuclear Energy, Pro and Con". New York Times. February 25, 2012.
- MacKenzie, James J. (December 1977). "Review of The Nuclear Power Controversy] by Arthur W. Murphy". The Quarterly Review of Biology 52 (4): 467–8. doi:10.1086/410301. JSTOR 2823429.
- Walker, J. Samuel (10 January 2006). Three Mile Island: A Nuclear Crisis in Historical Perspective. University of California Press. pp. 10–11. ISBN 9780520246836.
- In February 2010 the nuclear power debate played out on the pages of the New York Times, see A Reasonable Bet on Nuclear Power and Revisiting Nuclear Power: A Debate and A Comeback for Nuclear Power?
- In July 2010 the nuclear power debate again played out on the pages of the New York Times, see We’re Not Ready Nuclear Energy: The Safety Issues
- Kitschelt, Herbert P. (1986). "Political Opportunity and Political Protest: Anti-Nuclear Movements in Four Democracies" (PDF). British Journal of Political Science 16 (1): 57. doi:10.1017/S000712340000380X.
- Jim Falk (1982). Global Fission: The Battle Over Nuclear Power, Oxford University Press.
- U.S. Energy Legislation May Be `Renaissance' for Nuclear Power.
- Bernard Cohen. "The Nuclear Energy Option". Retrieved 2009-12-09.
- "Nuclear Energy is not a New Clear Resource.". Theworldreporter.com. 2010-09-02.
- Greenpeace International and European Renewable Energy Council (January 2007). Energy Revolution: A Sustainable World Energy Outlook, p. 7.
- Giugni, Marco (2004). Social protest and policy change: ecology, antinuclear, and peace movements in comparative perspective. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 44–. ISBN 9780742518278.
- Stephanie Cooke (2009). In Mortal Hands: A Cautionary History of the Nuclear Age, Black Inc., p. 280.
- Sovacool, Benjamin K. (2008). "The costs of failure: A preliminary assessment of major energy accidents, 1907–2007". Energy Policy 36 (5): 1802–20. doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2008.01.040.
- Jim Green . Nuclear Weapons and 'Fourth Generation' Reactors Chain Reaction, August 2009, pp. 18-21.
- Kleiner, Kurt (October 2008). "Nuclear energy: assessing the emissions" (PDF). Nature Reports 2: 130–1. ] ', Vol. , , pp. .
- Mark Diesendorf (2007). Greenhouse Solutions with Sustainable Energy, University of New South Wales Press, p. 252.
- Mark Diesendorf. Is nuclear energy a possible solution to global warming?
- Kidd, Steve (January 21, 2011). "New reactors—more or less?". Nuclear Engineering International.
- Ed Crooks (12 September 2010). "Nuclear: New dawn now seems limited to the east". Financial Times. Retrieved 12 September 2010.
- The Future of Nuclear Power. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 2003. ISBN 0-615-12420-8. Retrieved 2006-11-10
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2011). "The Future of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle". p. xv.
- International Panel on Fissile Materials (September 2010). "The Uncertain Future of Nuclear Energy". Research Report 9. p. 1.
- David Mark, Mark Willacy (April 1, 2011). "Crews 'facing 100-year battle' at Fukushima". ABC News.
- M.V. Ramana. Nuclear Power: Economic, Safety, Health, and Environmental Issues of Near-Term Technologies, Annual Review of Environment and Resources, 2009, 34, p. 136.
- Matthew Wald (February 29, 2012). "The Nuclear Ups and Downs of 2011". New York Times.
- Benjamin K. Sovacool. A Critical Evaluation of Nuclear Power and Renewable Electricity in Asia Journal of Contemporary Asia, Vol. 40, No. 3, August 2010, pp. 393–400.
- Arm, Stuart T. (07 2010). "Nuclear Energy: A Vital Component of Our Energy Future". Chemical Engineering Progress (New York, NY: American Institute of Chemical Engineers): 27–34. ISSN 0360-7275. OCLC 1929453. Retrieved 2010-07-26.[dead link]
- IAEA Publications
- Jacobson, Mark Z. and Delucchi, Mark A. (2010). "Providing all Global Energy with Wind, Water, and Solar Power, Part I: Technologies, Energy Resources, Quantities and Areas of Infrastructure, and Materials". Energy Policy. p. 6.
- Hugh Gusterson (16 March 2011). "The lessons of Fukushima". Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
- Diaz Maurin, François (26 March 2011). "Fukushima: Consequences of Systemic Problems in Nuclear Plant Design". Economic & Political Weekly (Mumbai) 46 (13): 10–12.
- James Paton (April 4, 2011). "Fukushima Crisis Worse for Atomic Power Than Chernobyl, UBS Says". Bloomberg Businessweek.
- Benjamin K. Sovacool (January 2011). "Second Thoughts About Nuclear Power". National University of Singapore. p. 8.
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2003). "The Future of Nuclear Power". p. 48.
- http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/withouthotair/c24/page_168.shtml Dr. MacKay Sustainable Energy without the hot air. page 168. Data from studies by the Paul Scherrer Institute including non EU data
- http://manhaz.cyf.gov.pl/manhaz/strona_konferencja_EAE-2001/15%20-%20Polenp~1.pdf Economic Analysis of Various Options of Electricity Generation - Taking into Account Health and Environmental Effects, based on EU ExterneE Project data
- World Nuclear Association. Safety of Nuclear Power Reactors.
- Doug Brugge, Jamie L. deLemos, and Cat Bui (September 2007). "The Sequoyah Corporation Fuels Release and the Church Rock Spill: Unpublicized Nuclear Releases in American Indian Communities". Am J Public Health; 97(9): 1595–1600.
- REN21 (2011). "Renewables 2011: Global Status Report". pp. 17, 18.
- Alex Morales (February 7, 2012). "Wind Power Market Rose to 41 Gigawatts in 2011, Led by China". Bloomberg.
- Lars Kroldrup. Gains in Global Wind Capacity Reported Green Inc., February 15, 2010.
- REN21 (2011). "Renewables 2011: Global Status Report". p. 15.
- Global wind energy markets continue to boom – 2006 another record year (PDF).
- European Photovoltaic Industry Association (2012). "Market Report 2011".
- Solar Trough Power Plants (PDF).
- "America and Brazil Intersect on Ethanol". Renewableenergyaccess.com. Retrieved 2011-11-21.
- United Nations Environment Programme Global Trends in Sustainable Energy Investment 2007: Analysis of Trends and Issues in the Financing of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency in OECD and Developing Countries (PDF), p. 3.
- Clean Edge (2009). Clean Energy Trends 2009 pp. 1-4.
- Ben Sills (Aug 29, 2011). "Solar May Produce Most of World’s Power by 2060, IEA Says". Bloomberg.
Further reading 
- William D. Nordhaus, The Swedish Nuclear Dilemma – Energy and the Environment. 1997. Hardcover, ISBN 0-915707-84-5.
- Bernard Leonard Cohen, The Nuclear Energy Option: An Alternative for the 90's. 1990. Hardcover. ISBN 0-306-43567-5. Bernard Cohen's homepage contains the full text of the book.
- La France Nucleaire Nuclear France: Materials and Sites (online book in English and French)
- An Essential Programme to Underpin Government Policy on Nuclear Power. By the "Nuclear Task Force." July 2003[dead link] (pdf)