In 1965, the year BP’s data begins, nuclear generated 24 terawatt-hours of power, while wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass generated 15 terawatt-hours. That was as close as the two categories would be again until 2019. The gap between the two widened for four full decades, but with nuclear generation basically flat since the turn of the century and renewables continuing to grow, the latter caught the former in 2020. Compare the shape of the renewables curve to nuclear’s. The perfectly smooth renewables curve is an aggregate of hundreds of geothermal plants, thousands of biomass turbines, a-third-of-a-million wind turbines, and more than a billion photovoltaic modules, installed across numerous global markets. It shows not a single annual decline in more than 50 years. Nuclear is basically the opposite: a single technology with a small number of plants in an even smaller number of markets. Many discrete decisions — whether to embark on a massive expansion in one market, say, or to shut down generation for years in the wake of disaster — are visible in this chart. There, in 2011, is the Japanese nuclear fleet response to the Tōhoku earthquake and ensuing tsunami. And we don’t need to squint to see the shutdown of six plants last year in the U.S, Sweden, Russia, and France.
Bloomberg 19th Aug 2021 read more »