Monday, June 23, 2008

Wind Power Expansion in 2007 Beats Nuclear 10-to-1


by Matthew McDermott

Chinese Nuclear Plant
photo by Bret Arnett

Worldwatch Institute is reporting in a Vital Signs report that in 2007 new wind power installations outpaced new nuclear power plant construction by 10-to-1. Globally, the wind industry added 20,000 MW of new capacity last year, while the nuclear industry added less than 2,000 MW. Three new reactors in India, China, Romania accounted for this small amount of growth.

The report notes that though 34 reactors are under construction around the world—20 of which are in Asia, with China and India having 6 a piece—12 of these have been under construction for 20 years or more. Worldwatch reports that construction problems, engineering challenges and safety concerns are delaying many projects. Financial issues also are an issue: According to Moody’s credit rating agency, “many of the current expectations regarding new nuclear generation are overly ambitious” and costs for next-generation plants are higher than the usual $3,500 per kilowatt figure used by the industry.

James Lovelock and other “the only hope for civilization is nuclear power” evangelists will likely being disappointed by this report, but to your garden variety treehugger this report certainly comes as good news.

Putting my finger to the wind here: How do Treehugger readers come down on the nuclear v. renewable debate? To you is it an either/or decision or somewhere in the middle?

:: Worldwatch Institute

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