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Nuclear has been eclipsed by solar and wind

Andrew Blakers's picture
Professor of Engineering Australian National university

Andrew Blakers is Professor of Engineering at the Australian National University. He founded the solar PV research group at ANU. In the 1980s and 1990s he was responsible for the design and...

  • Member since 2021
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  • Aug 23, 2021

At the end of 2020, solar PV and wind each had nearly twice the global installed capacity (Gigawatts, GW) of nuclear.

Importantly, the deployment rate of new solar and wind capacity is much larger than for nuclear, and so the gap is rapidly widening. Over the past 5 years, the growth in installed nuclear capacity was only 11 GW compared with for 417 GW for solar and 266 GW for wind. Compared with solar and wind, nuclear power station construction is a cottage industry.


The combined global annual energy production of solar and wind (Terawatt-hours, TWh) has passed that of nuclear. Because solar and wind capacity is growing much faster than nuclear capacity, this gap will rapidly widen.


Sources of information:

  1. International Renewable Energy Agency Capacity Statistics
  2. World Nuclear Association
  3. The average capacity factor for nuclear power stations is 74% according to the World Nuclear Association. Capacity factors for wind and solar are in the range 20-50% and 10-25% respectively. Conservative average CFs of 30% and 15% respectively are adopted.
Jim Stack's picture
Jim Stack on Aug 23, 2021

This is just the begining. As more utilities add battery storage it will grow even faster. The cost is much lower. There is no pollution or water use. Nothing else has improved so much and dropped in cost as well. Combines with hydro and Geo-Thermal it is as perfect as we can get. 

Andrew Blakers's picture
Andrew Blakers on Aug 23, 2021

Large-scale low-cost energy storage isn't batteries; rather, its off-river pumped hydro:

Andrew Blakers's picture
Thank Andrew for the Post!
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