Shift to Nuclear Brightens Asian Energy Future

By Vijay Jayaraj

At a time when the global media narrative is dominated by fossil fuels and renewables, countries in Asia have been commissioning an increasing number of nuclear plants, contrary to many European countries and the U.S. 

With a string of new approvals in recent years, the future of energy security in Asia appears to be increasingly dependent on nuclear energy to bolster the already strong fossil fuel sector.

Unlike renewables, nuclear plants do not occupy large swaths of land and do not stop working when there is no wind or sun. In addition, among all available electricity-generation methods, nuclear plants have the highest capacity factor — a measure of the ability of a plant to produce at full capacity in a given period of time. The nuclear capacity factor is higher than 90 percent whilst solar and wind is around 25 percent and 35 percent, respectively.

Attracted to the advantages of nuclear power and financially strengthened by economic growth supported by fossil fuels, more countries are beginning to invest in new nuclear plants.

China, India, and Others Go Nuclear

China is spending as much as $440 billion on new nuclear plants. Last month, Bloomberg reported that “China is planning at least 150 new reactors in the next 15 years, more than the rest of the world has built in the past 35.”

India too has been receptive to nuclear technology. Currently having 23 reactors in operation, the subcontinent will add 12 new reactors by 2024 and is assessing the possibility of five more. Though the Indian numbers are dwarfed by that of China’s, the country has made significant progress. Installed nuclear power capacity grew by over 40 percent in the last seven years.

My home state of Tamil Nadu in the southwestern tip of India boasts state-of-art nuclear generation — including the Kudankulam plant with four reactors — that employs fast breeder reactors imported from Russia. Even as I was writing this piece, construction for a new reactor was launched 200 miles from my place of birth.

Japan Returns to Nuclear After a Brief Hiatus

In the Far East, Japan has returned to its old love of nuclear energy after a decade-long hiatus caused by the knee-jerk reaction to the tsunami-induced Fukushima nuclear accident.

The Fukushima incident was exaggerated by the media and unwarranted fear was instilled among the people of the world. In fact, a recent study of wildlife living in the Fukushima exclusion zone shows “almost no adverse effects of the radiation from the nuclear plant meltdown on the animals’ DNA.” The incident was one of its kind, involving an outdated technology vulnerable to the extraordinary earthquake and tidal wave that struck the plant.

Japan’s embrace of nuclear was inevitable. The country’s lack of fossil-fuel resources make nuclear an obvious choice. Though the Japanese leadership seem to have a soft spot for renewables, it knows that they cannot meet its cities’ power demands.  At least 20 percent of Japan’s total electricity is expected to come from nuclear by 2030..

Anti-Nuclear Sentiment Impacting Key Economies

At present, China has 46 nuclear plants either in the planning stage or under construction. In contrast, the U.S. has only two plants under construction. Many European countries have no nuclear plants under construction.

In Europe, France has been a champion of nuclear energy. But other big economies like Germany and the UK have been reluctant to increase nuclear capacity, leading to an unstable energy sector and higher power prices. In fact, Germany is set to phase out all of its nuclear power plants by 2022.

This huge difference in the nuclear priorities of the East and the West may increase in the coming years as nuclear proponents face opposition from the climate collective — unless the so-called green agenda loses support to a technology far superior to wind turbines and solar panels.

Vijay Jayaraj is a Research Associate at the CO2 Coalition, Arlington, Va., and holds a Master’s degree in environmental sciences from the University of East Anglia, England. He resides in Bengaluru, India.

This commentary was first published December 28, 2021 at the American Thinker

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December 28, 2021 6:11 pm

America currently has plentiful natural gas. That makes nuclear pointless except as an alternative to solar panels and windmills.

Europe, on the other hand, should be embracing nuclear, but isn’t. They have placed a noose around their neck and handed the rope to Putin (is he related to RasPutin?)

Gary Pearse
Reply to  commieBob
December 28, 2021 10:24 pm

Russia is building the plants in India. Oddly, Russia’s resolute rejection of the Eurocentric putsch to destroy economies, education, culture, family – the highly successful Western way of life… to install a totalitarian global governance, makes Russia the benefactor of those of us resisting this this human disaster in the making.

Since the disease has been contracted by the Democrats in the USA, the single country that used to be the bastion of our freedoms and way of life, we are otherwise exposed to a ‘Reset’ that is far more dire than the Soviet Union’s horrors under a paranoid Stalin. Our leaders are presumed to be sane.

Russia’s recent veto of giving military-backed powers to the UN to deal with international security and conflict CAUSED BY GLOBAL WARMING(!!!) was huge. The dark side has all the money, all the levers of power, are supported by universities, and almost all other institutions in the West and they are single-minded. India? I already see them as leaders of the English-Speaking world.

Joao Martins
Reply to  Gary Pearse
December 29, 2021 3:15 am

I agree: “Russia’s recent veto of giving military-backed powers to the UN to deal with international security and conflict CAUSED BY GLOBAL WARMING(!!!) was huge.

We should stress that fundamental truth and not forget it. UN is NOT working according to its original principles and objectives, stated in its chart. It is usurping powers from the countries while being led by non-elected bureaucrats. It is unlawfully appropriating the sovereignty of the peoples.

Reply to  Joao Martins
December 29, 2021 2:12 pm

The Russian Academy of Science’s Institute of Numerical Methods has the “best” climate model. It’s looks like the ONLY CMIP model that forcasted agreement with saatellite and balloon temperature data sets. It’s reported that it has an extensive air/ocean interface and ocean focus. I would think that they have no worries about “global warming” based on their model.
Why don’t the rest of the alarmists take a lesson from the Russian computer model?????

Joao Martins
Reply to  DrEd
December 30, 2021 3:56 am

Thank you, Ed! I also noticed their much better agreement with real observations. Thus I have got that impression long ago, that Russians have developped a reasonably good climate model; but I am not from that field and so have no information, no personal connections, etc., from where to get sound facts.

Tom Halla
December 28, 2021 6:17 pm

Fukushima was pretty much a worst case scenario for Western designed reactors, and would not have been damaged much except for a tsunami from an even larger earthquake than the plant had been designed for.
Most of the antinuclear sentiment is conflating weapons and reactors, with the remainder being pure Luddite antitechnology nihilism. When one agrees with Paul Ehrlich that having cheap and abundant power is like giving an idiot child a machine gun, claims of risk are rather insincere.

Reply to  Tom Halla
December 28, 2021 7:31 pm

With your description “pure Luddite antitechnology nihilism”, you really are just skating around it. I think that “stark raving nuts” might be a bit more accurate. But then, some situations are so extreme that any combination of words seems to fall short.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Mike Jonas
December 29, 2021 3:48 am

We really are being led by people caught up in a climate change delusion.

December 28, 2021 6:44 pm

Plenty of gas in the US but also plenty of scope to expand nuclear if the regulation nation was not opposed to it and the regulatory octopus has support from the gas lobby because gas can live happily with wind and solar but it competes with nuclear.

Nick Schroeder
December 28, 2021 6:54 pm

Nuclear, wind, PV and other electric “solutions” to the CAGW non-problem are more billions down the drain unless and until the transportation sector gets electricated and the mess and expense of that means – never!!

Chris Hanley
December 28, 2021 7:04 pm

… nuclear plants have the highest capacity factor …

They also have the highest energy return on energy invested ratio by far.
In comparing energy sources wind and solar are often treated as if they were one-off expenditure but the effective operating life of them is relatively short and must be constantly replaced compared to thermal plant — using thermal energy of course — and because of their relative dispersal cost a lot to maintain (using fossil fuels).
Even when well maintained the effective life of wind turbines is twenty years and solar PV typically degrade below 90% efficiency after ten years.
The oldest operating thermal plant is claimed to be the in Russia at over 120 years old although there are probably others that google is not interested in.
The oldest operating nuclear plant is Beznau power plant in Switzerland that began operation 1969.

December 28, 2021 7:26 pm

Nuclear energy saves lives compared to getting equivalent energy from coal, oil, wind, hydroelectric or solar.

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Dan Pangburn
December 28, 2021 11:14 pm

Wind and solar cannot provide the equivalent energy of nuclear. You need to pretty much pave your country with batteries and maybe 50x the nuclear capacity in order to get the equivalent.

Reply to  Dan Pangburn
December 29, 2021 12:17 am

Most people want to ignore the fact, the 100s that die from coal mining disasters every year in PRC & ex USSR etc.
Coal mining has taken more lives with explosions, collapses, flooding and silicosis in 150yrs than anything nuclear…even the S Wales Aberfan-slurry slide was a mining related disaster because of use of a mountain top to dump tailings.

Reply to  pigs_in_space
December 29, 2021 3:52 am

In China thousands die every year in coal mining accidents.

December 28, 2021 8:08 pm

Eventually all signs will point to nuclear whether you are pro or anti wind and solar unless we discover another source of energy that can compete. It’s just a matter of time but in the meantime a lot of damage to economies and lifestyles will take place with the path we’re taking now.

Dan DeLong
Reply to  markl
December 28, 2021 8:34 pm

India also has programs to use its large reserves of Thorium to lower its reliance on imported Uranium fuel. This breeding technology is mostly being ignored in the West.

Leo Smith
Reply to  Dan DeLong
December 28, 2021 10:12 pm

India has a lot of thorium but not much uranium. One should not compare apples and oranges.

Uranium non breeder reactirs are well understood, simple, and good enough

Geoff Sherrington
Reply to  Leo Smith
December 28, 2021 10:31 pm

The point is that reactors do not need much fuel, whether it is uranium or thorium. Nuclear generation has a small factor for fuel cost, not as low as “free” wind but much lower than oil, gas, coal, camel dung or international wood pellets. Geoff S

December 28, 2021 8:20 pm

Coal is still king as shown by your picture which is a coal fired plant.

Peter W
Reply to  Bernie
December 29, 2021 7:16 am

And by increasing CO2 in the atmosphere it also helps plant growth.

December 28, 2021 9:48 pm

Sometimes repurposing is the best solution.

December 28, 2021 10:06 pm

Sky News Australia has recently broadcast a documentary made in Australia about the nuclear energy future that really is the only viable way to provide reliable electricity generation emissions free unless hydro and required limitless water supply is available.

Rolls Royce was featured and their modular nuclear power plants that will be supplied in a kit form for erection on site, preferably a site with grid transmission lines like where a coal fired power station due for replacement is located.

The RR design is aesthetically pleasing, architect design and does not look like the traditional industrial power station.

It was fascinating to hear comments from admitted to having been “Greens” and who were opposed to nuclear energy now very supportive of nuclear.

The CEO of the Lucas Heights in Sydney nuclear facility producing radio isotopes and research identified Uranium and Thorium as the future fuels for electricity generation.

Geoff Sherrington
Reply to  Dennis
December 28, 2021 10:43 pm

Shocked to hear of uranium and thorium identified by a recent expert as future fuels for nuclear.
Maybe he was excited about possibly replacing the present unobtanium.
It is really gut wrenching for people like me who helped put Australia at the global top of the front end of the nuclear cycle, only to watch a succession of high-paid, timid, weakling bureaucrats fail absolutely for decades to get any nuclear electricity going. Must be nice to retire on a fat pile of money for achieving nought, zero, nothing of what they were paid to do.
Nobody, repeat nobody, has ever been able to explain to me why Australia acquired a no nukes policy and why it has persisted for decade after decade in the face of compelling evidence that it is the best way to go for Australia and its natural advantages that we identified in the 1970s or earlier.
Geoff S

Kit P
Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
December 29, 2021 8:39 am

Let me explain why no nukes in Aussie land.


Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Dennis
December 28, 2021 10:50 pm

This Company has been advertising on Seattle News Radio lately. I’m not sure who they’re advertising to, it’s not like some municipality is going to hear a radio ad for a nuclear plant and go “Hey! Let’s buy one!”.

Kit P
Reply to  Jeff Alberts
December 29, 2021 8:48 am

You are right, BS public relations.

Stupid too! Seattle already gets power from nuclear power.

Any new nukes in Washington State will be on the Hanford Reservation with a long history of all kinds of reactors.

The local community is very supportive of nuclear power and cares nothing about what people think in the Seattle area.

Andrew Cross
December 29, 2021 2:10 am

What is conversion factor of nuclear heat to electricity? Is residual heat simply expended to atmosphere or is it functionally used like for building heating?

What occurs with the spent fuel? USA mountain facility to store spent fuel was blocked.

What is future availability of nuclear fuel? Nuclear fuel is a finite mined resource, so that is same as fossil fuels. Mining rights were also signed from Canada to outside countries. Actual mining using leeching techniques is causing toxic sludge lakes.

Peter W
Reply to  Andrew Cross
December 29, 2021 7:24 am

The French demonstrated very effectively that reprocessing the “used” nuclear fuel largely solves the waste problem. Further, there are practical uses for many or the isotopes which remain after the reprocessing..

Reply to  Andrew Cross
December 29, 2021 8:29 am

Nuclear fuel is finite, but the amount is huge.
I remember reading that there was enough uranium dissolved in the oceans to power us for hundreds to thousands of years.
With uranium alone we have thousands of years worth of supply. Using breeder reactors we can easily double or triple that.
Then there are the many designs that don’t use uranium at all.

Kit P
Reply to  Andrew Cross
December 29, 2021 9:06 am

The too many unanswered questions straw horse.

Of course the Yucca Mountain repository is not blocked. US courts told POTUS to follow the law. It may be delayed as non problems are low priority.

A small finite amount of fissionable material is needed to power the world. We may or may not run run out before the sun novas.

Nevada is one big dried up toxic lake bed. The geological conditions that concentrate Uranium in the ground can be reversed to chemically mine Uranium. Reducing toxicity.

December 29, 2021 2:17 am

Decision time is approaching in Europe, as commissioners such as Ireland’s Mairead McGuinness are proposing that both nuclear and natural gas are classified as “green” low carbon technologies. But Germany, Austria and other antinuclear states are opposing this. France is at the core of a pronuclear group that includes most of Eastern Europe. Netherlands has recently gone pro-nuclear with two new plants announced.

It will be an important decision for Europe’s energy future – maybe for Europe’s future period.

Eco-activists have a simple choice in front of them:

– either: embrace nuclear and reduce CO2 emissions while still having energy

– or: cling to their comforting antinuclear position and totally forget about any remote chance of CO2 emission reductions.

It is revealing how many of them are choosing the second option.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Phil Salmon
December 29, 2021 4:07 am

“But Germany, Austria and other antinuclear states are opposing this.”

This is hard to understand. It doesn’t make any sense. And what’s really crazy is they intend to shut down perfectly good working nuclear reactors now, when their entire grid is at risk of blackouts.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
December 29, 2021 4:14 am

Germany will close 3 of its remaining 6 reactors by the end of 2021… imminently, that is…

That will lose it just 4.5 GW of power.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  griff
December 29, 2021 7:23 am

That is “just” 6.3% of their total generating capacity, based on actual performance, not name plate over-exaggeration. When they can the rest, it will be 12.6%. Good luck replacing that. Ohh, wait, Polish coal plants will help fill the gap!

Rich Davis
Reply to  D. J. Hawkins
December 29, 2021 12:10 pm

The only way griff will learn is to see wind and solar fail.

Oh wait, griff already saw that in Texas but he didn’t learn anything. Just makes up excuses for why the problem wasn’t a lack of wind and solar.

So if Germany crashes the grid, there will definitely be new lies from MiniTruth that he’ll be spewing. I’m sure they have contingency plans. (Not to keep power flowing…contingency plans for who and what to scapegoat when the next ruinables failure arrives.)

Reply to  Rich Davis
December 30, 2021 2:06 am

I saw the fossil fuel component fail in Texas.

Tell me, even Texas must have low wind some days. Even in Texas that wind can drop off rapidly. So Texas didn’t have enough fossil fuel/spinning reserve to run if there was no wind or if wind dropped suddenly?

Cclearly it did – but that capacity froze because they ignored repeated advice to winterise it.

Rich Davis
Reply to  griff
December 31, 2021 6:51 pm

Oh come on griff. Way to be logically consistent. How much fossil fuel/spinning reserve will you have in a net zero scenario? Or are you admitting that net zero is impossible?

Sure over-reliance on unreliables was the main problem, but brain-dead bureaucrats making regulations that require compressors on natural gas pipelines to use grid power was the reason why natural gas supplies were constrained when the grid power wasn’t available because there was no wind or sun.

Happy new year to you anyway. You’ve given us hours of entertainment in 2021. I sincerely hope you don’t freeze to death when the UK grid goes down. Just a little hypothermia to focus your mind would be ok though.

Reply to  D. J. Hawkins
December 30, 2021 2:04 am

did you notice the Poles cancelling new coal plant recently?

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  griff
January 2, 2022 7:04 am

They delayed the plant due to the COVID economic hiccup. They are planning to convert it to natural gas

Reply to  D. J. Hawkins
December 30, 2021 4:45 am

Germany are wholly reliant on coal to keep the lights on. Even on a good day for wind like today coal is providing 10.4GW or 15% or electrical energy needs.

Closing 4.5GW of nuclear power means it has to be made up from somewhere else and that means coal and gas in Germany.

Peter W
Reply to  griff
December 29, 2021 7:26 am

Pretty sad, on the part of Germany.

Shanghai Dan
Reply to  griff
December 29, 2021 7:47 am

According to this source:

Nuclear is providing more power for Germany than solar and wind – combined.

Reply to  griff
December 29, 2021 8:41 am

And, Griff, where are the 3,000 windmills to provide unreliable power? And the multiple gas turbine peaking plants to back up the windmills?

Reply to  Mason
December 30, 2021 2:07 am

? where are you talking about ??

December 29, 2021 4:11 am

Is this a ‘shift’? This is just documenting India and China continue with their existing programmes and Japan starting to use its existing ones…

Reply to  griff
December 29, 2021 8:34 am

From the guy who just a couple of months ago was proclaiming how nuclear was a proven dead end that was being abandoned by everyone.

Reply to  MarkW
December 29, 2021 3:14 pm

honestly, if griff had another brain cell, it would be lonely.

Reply to  Streetcred
December 30, 2021 2:04 am

And you must have been a hoot in first grade.

answer the question – is this a shift? I don’t think so.

Reply to  MarkW
December 30, 2021 2:03 am

I’ve just pointed out the expense, difficulty in financing and time taken.

So answer the question: is this a shift or continuing existing policy?

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  griff
December 30, 2021 11:48 am

An acceleration of an existing policy, Griff
China only build renewables when orders dry up from the gullible west in order to keep their manufacturing tooled up but they know it’s useless hence the drive for nuclear, and continuing coal.
Same as with India.

A shift is what is occurring in Europe, almost everyone talking nuclear now where a couple years ago even France was talking about closing down Nuclear.
Not anymore
Eastern Europe and Britain also seeing “which way the wind blows” and are talking nuclear to keep the lights on.

The only one that hasn’t publicly changed tack is Germany but they will be forced to backtrack in 2022

Kit P
December 29, 2021 9:35 am

Doing something 50 years after it has been in the US is not leadership. This includes building large numbers of nuke plants and sharing the technology with the world.

Many old nuke plants designed for 40 year life span and a 80% capacity factor will run for 60 years at 90% CF.

Research for plants to last 80 years is being done now.

It makes sense for me to keep my old car running rather than have a new built for me. If you do not have a car please do not infer that I have a problem. My car is parked in front of a single family house with clean drinking water and electricity.

There is not technical barrier for clean water and electricity.

Lars P.
Reply to  Kit P
December 30, 2021 11:22 am

<i>Doing something 50 years after it has been in the US is not leadership.</i>

The US has done a lot of pioneering in the area, however there is still enough room to research and learn in nuclear energy that has not been done and currently not being led by the US…

Bruce Cobb
December 29, 2021 1:11 pm

But, but, but, nuclear energy “clogs the grid”. You want to free up the grid with renewables, not clog it with nuclear. Sheesh.

Kit P
Reply to  Bruce Cobb
December 29, 2021 2:47 pm

That is an argument that I have not heard before.

Steam plants are built to meet the demand of customers. The grid is built to transport the power to the customer when they needed it.

There also is a large and complex system to transport coal and gas to the power plant.

Nuke plants are built when coal and gas can not meet the demand often because of grid and transportation limitations. That has been the case of every nuke plant I have worked at including in China.

Let me repeat, steam plants are built to meet demand. It is not a hobby.

Wind and solar is not built to meet demand. The wind does blow and the sun does not shine when power is needed.

Utilities only built demonstration wind and solar to demonstrate this fact. Does anyone listen?

Demonstration projects show more ghg is produced by wind and solar than coal.

Since steam plants and the grid has been around a long time, wind and solar can be used to make electricity. It is just so stupid on every level.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Bruce Cobb
December 30, 2021 6:24 am

“clogs the grid”

One of the more ignorant statements made by alarmists. It deserves lots of ridicule. Thanks, Bruce. 🙂

David S
December 29, 2021 2:16 pm

The same people who hate fossil fuels also hate nukes. And to some extent they do have a point; what do you do with the radio active waste?

Lars P.
Reply to  David S
December 30, 2021 11:13 am

<i>”what do you do with the radio active waste?”</i>

you use it as a resource in fast breeder reactors. It is possible to eliminate almost all waste

David S
Reply to  Lars P.
December 30, 2021 1:42 pm

Lars Do you have a source for that info? According to the Union of Concerned Scientists spent fuel rods are being stored on site at the reactors:
“Because no permanent repository for spent fuel exists in the United States, reactor owners have kept spent fuel at the reactor sites. As the amount of spent fuel has increased, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has authorized many power plant owners to increase the amount in their storage pools to as much as five times what they were designed to hold. As a result, virtually all U.S. spent fuel pools have been “re-racked” to hold spent fuel assemblies at densities that approach those in reactor cores. In order to prevent the spent fuel from going critical, the spent fuel assemblies are placed in metal boxes whose walls contain neutron-absorbing boron.”


If there is a better solution then why aren’t they doing it?

Pat from kerbob
December 30, 2021 11:42 am

To me, hugely interesting stat I learned here a couple months ago
25% of Australia’s energy exports are nuclear, uranium
75% coal and gas

By weight, coal and gas are 650million tons
Uranium is 7900 tons

27000 times the energy density.

We should go nuclear for the grid in canada with gas peaker plants for overage conditions, save the gas for home heating

Save our coal for future needs

Pat from kerbob
December 30, 2021 11:58 am

Meanwhile here in canada our moronic progressive government and sociopathic environment minister announced no support for nuclear, it would be left to the market.
To those of us with brain cells that means piling layer upon layer of regulation to strangle it and prevent investment same as they are doing with oil and gas

Nothing will change until we change the mindset in this country and get rid of all these governments.

We have prevented all but one LNG plant to proceed and the insane continue to fight to stop that one, because our wonderful insane progressives said there would be no market for LNG.

Idiots, clowns and morons
Just another day in canada

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