A new report suggests that the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster has slowed nuclear growth in general by about 10% compared with projections before the accident.

The Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development’s Nuclear Energy Agency published the report, The Role of Nuclear Energy in a Low-carbon Energy Future, (NEA no. 6887), in June.

However it concludes that a slightly increased rate of worldwide nuclear new-build construction this decade, by 3 GWe/year to 16 GWe/year to 2020, will still enable nuclear energy to hit forecast targets of 1200 GWe in 2050. After that the rate of nuclear construction would need to grow to around 20 GWe per year on average in the 2020s if capacity is to reach around 685 GWe by 2030, and then increase to 36 GWe/yr in the 2030s – assuming a current operational average plant life of 55 years – and rise again to 42 GWe/yr in the 2040s to hit the target.

It also concluded that lifetime extensions for the existing rector fleet would help nuclear capacity to grow strongly until 2030, as new start-ups would mainly represent additional capacity. But as retirements increase in the 2030s and 2040s, a greater fraction of new-build will go to simply replacing what already exists. Therefore the growth of nuclear capacity could slow after 2030 unless there is a strong upturn in new construction at that stage.