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Newcomers like Bangladesh will help drive 30 percent nuclear growth

Posting in Energy

Bangladesh plans to operate two Russian nuclear reactors by 2020, reducing its reliance on natural gas.

If you had to quickly name at least one country committed to building nuclear power stations for economic growth, chances are you would not blurt out Bangladesh.

Yet the South Asian nation is among the many first timers that will help drive a 30 percent surge in worldwide nuclear power generation by 2020, according to London-based business intelligence firm GlobalData.

"At present there are around 45 nuclear-free countries looking at adding the controversial power source to their energy portfolio, including the UAE, Turkey, Poland and Bangladesh," GlobalData says in a press release. (As I noted recently, Vietnam is building its first two nuclear reactors with help from Russia, the same country supplying Bangladesh.)

Combine that with the 165 reactors that the World Nuclear Association says non-novice China is either building, planning or proposing, and the outlook for nuclear growth is strong. That's despite a slowdown that followed the meltdowns at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi power station two years ago when some countries including Germany decided to abandon nuclear. Other countries such as the U.S. are dithering.

GlobalData says that nuclear-experienced China, India and South Korea will lead the revival. It forecasts 198 new reactors by 2020 - nearly half of the 435 reactors that the world was operating as of January, according to the World Nuclear Association. Nuclear will generate 3.1 million gigawatt hours (GWh) by 2020, up from 2.4 million GWh last year, GlobalData says.

You could say that the "nuclear renaissance" that was building prior to Fukushima is returning, for all the reasons that applied in the first place: Nuclear is a low carbon technology and can provide large steady doses of power, unlike the intermittent electricity generated by renewables such as wind and solar.

"The escalating need for power, combined with soaring fossil fuel prices, is driving the demand for nuclear energy around the world - especially amongst rapidly developing countries where large scale alternative energy generation is impractical," GlobalData says.

The research firm predicts that global power consumption will climb from 20 million GWh last year to 27.5 million GWh in 2020.

Map from placesbook.org

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— By on March 18, 2013, 10:43 PM PST

Mark Halper

Contributing Editor

Mark Halper has written for TIME, Fortune, Financial Times, the UK's Independent on Sunday, Forbes, New York Times, Wired, Variety and The Guardian. He is based in Bristol, U.K. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure