The decline of the nuclear industry in France and around the world

Far from the official rhetoric, which in his view is totally disconnected from reality, Mycle Schneider, a leading specialist in the nuclear industry, takes stock, as he does every year, of the global situation. And dispels preconceived ideas: nuclear power remains insignificant in the global electricity market.

By Frédéric Crotta

China and Russia, market leaders

The nuclear industry has been in decline for several years now. In France, of course, but also in the USA and the rest of the world. Two major exceptions complete the picture: China and Russia are the only countries to maintain and renovate their nuclear power plants, and this year they once again remain market leaders in this micro-market of nuclear reactor manufacturers.

“Six reactors were commissioned last year,” points out expert Mycle Schneider, “5 of them in China, a significant drop compared to the 10 commissioned per year worldwide between 2021 and 2022.
A strong sign of this general backtracking: the United States has no plans to develop a single small nuclear reactor in the current year. Even on paper.

In France, the cards need to be reshuffled

In France, despite the unfulfilled and untenable promises of an all-nuclear future that was supposed to make our country self-sufficient in energy, the future looks bleak. The year 2022 has been declared “annus horribilis”, in the words of one of EDF’s directors. With an average nuclear output of zero for 152 days, it fell below the 1990 level.
Here, as everywhere, the pace of construction is insufficient. Despite President Emmanuel Macron’s promises, the SMR (Small Modular Reactor) development plan has stalled. Contrary to appearances, this type of reactor is much more expensive and time-consuming to build than a conventional reactor.

On the strength of this objective observation that “even solar and wind power are more efficient”, Mycle Schneider regrets that there is no feedback on his analysis from governmental and parliamentary authorities. We need,” he says, “to redistribute the cards, speak plainly and engage in a real debate on the future of nuclear power”.

Frédéric Crotta

world nuclear industry