According to a new report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), nuclear power continued as an important source of electricity in 1995, accounting for 22 percent of total worldwide electric generation. The report, "Nuclear Power Generation and Fuel Cycle Report 1996," projects continued worldwide growth for nuclear plants in the near term, but uncertain long-term prospects.
Worldwide, nuclear plants generated
2,225 terawatt-hours in 1995, a four percent increase from 1994 (one terawatt equals 1000 gigawatts, or one million megawatts). The study adds that four commercial nuclear power plants were connected to electric power grids in 1995, and one plant was reconnected after a six-year shutdown. The study found 437 nuclear units in operation at the end of 1995, as two plants were retired during that year. There were 85 nuclear units under construction at the end of 1995, including 32 units in the Far East.
Over the next two decades, EIA shows a range of projections for nuclear capacity worldwide. EIA's reference case scenario shows a slight capacity decline from the present 344 net gigawatts electric (gWe) to 333 gWe by 2015. In the high case scenario, capacity rises to 455 gWe. The range reflects uncertainty in completions and licensing for projects under construction. Most of the growth will occur in the Far East, especially in Japan, China, and South Korea. In the U.S., total nuclear electric capacity is projected at 64 gWe by 2015, a decline from 99 gWe in 1995.