Investment. Global reported investment for the construction of the four commercial nuclear reactor projects (excluding the demonstration CFR-600 in China) started in 2017 is nearly US$16 billion for about 4 GW. This compares to US$280 billion renewable energy investment, including over US$100 billion in wind power and US$160 billion in solar photovoltaics (PV). China alone invested US$126 billion, over 40 times as much as in 2004. Mexico and Sweden enter the Top-Ten investors for the first time. A significant boost to renewables investment was also given in Australia (x 1.6) and Mexico (x 9). Global investment decisions on new commercial nuclear power plants of about US$16 billion remain a factor of 8 below the investments in renewables in China alone.
Installed Capacity. In 2017, the 157 GW of renewables added to the world’s power grids, up from 143 GW added the previous year, represent the largest increase ever. The increase accounted for more than 61 percent of net additions to global power generating capacity. Wind added 52 GW and solar PV a record 97 GW. These numbers compare to a 3.3 GW increase for nuclear power.
Electricity Generation. Nine of the 31 nuclear countries, Brazil, China, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Spain and U.K.—a list that includes three of the world’s four largest economies—generated more electricity in 2017 from non-hydro renewables than from nuclear power.
In 2017, annual growth for global generation from solar was over 35 percent, for wind power over 17 percent, and for nuclear power 1 percent, exclusively due to China.
Compared to 1997, when the Kyoto Protocol on climate change was signed, in 2017 an additional 1,100 TWh of wind power was produced globally and 442 TWh of solar PV electricity, compared to nuclear’s additional 239 TWh.
In China, as in the previous five years, in 2017, electricity production from wind alone (286 TWh), by far exceeded that from nuclear (233 TWh). The same phenomenon is seen in India, where wind power (53 TWh) outpaced nuclear—stagnating at 35 TWh—for the second year in a row.