2012 Was the Worst Year Ever for Nuclear Energy

There are lots of nuclear energy companies that would like to leave 2012 behind. Of all the major energy sources, it was the only one that saw a global decline in total consumption. The decline in the United States was largely attributed to cheap natural gas, as it captured a much larger chunk of market share, while alternative energy options became more attractive. To compound the problem, the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown made several countries abroad rethink nuclear use. In Japan, 89% of all nuclear power was shut down as a result of the disaster.

So the question remains, where does nuclear go from here? The increasing attractiveness of solar and wind is going to make it harder and harder to justify using nuclear as a base-load power source, because the economics of doing so is not as attractive as that for natural gas or even coal. One element that could completely change the landscape is restrictions on carbon emissions. Tune in to the following video, where contributor Tyler Crowe discusses what these events could mean for nuclear and what some utility companies are doing in light of these new trends. 

The energy industry in the United States is changing fast, but that doesn't mean you should immediately pull out and wait for the dust to settle. For disciplined investors who do their homework, there are several great stocks out there that would be a sound addition to your portfolio. The Motley Fool's chief investment officer has identified one under-the-radar energy company as his pick of the year. Let us help you get started on your analysis of this company by checking out our free special report: "The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2013." Just click here to access the report.

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  • Report this Comment On July 14, 2013, at 10:37 AM, fpl1954 wrote:

    People are catching on to nuclear energy. Ignoring the extreme risk of radioactive releases, which are inevitable for all plants, the economics make no sense. After being lied to for 70 years that nuclear power will be "too cheap to meter" Americans are realizing that when nuclear plants open, electricity rates triple. Power companies are regulated monopolies. They are allowed a fixed rate of return on investment. The only way they can increase their profits is find more expensive ways to generate electricity. This is why they are pro-nuclear, it's by far the most expensive power generation method, and why they are opposed to solar, because solar costs twice the cost of a coal plant to install, then costs nothing from then on. If power companies went 100% solar their profits, figured as a fixed % of the cost of generation, would dwindle away until they went bankrupt. That's also why they oppose buying power from homeowners who install solar, again it destroys their profits.

  • Report this Comment On July 14, 2013, at 1:35 PM, GeorgePolitico wrote:

    It will be interesting to see whether Bill Gates can succeed with his Travelling Wave reactor. Nuclear energy faces a series of Catch-22s. Public alarm prevents reactor operators and manufacturers from making changes, and yet changes are needed to improve safety. Every move to improve safety is taken as evidence that the existing systems are not reliable. Every change is horrendously expensive.

    The best answer may be to make the reactors smaller and to make safety systems more dependent on the laws of physics, rather than on engineering. Gates knows how to make complex projects succeed, but he is tackling a problem that has defeated many capable people. Stay tuned...

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