The March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and resultant tsunami inflicted severe damage on the Fukushima - Daiichi rectors causing most countries to undertake comprehensive safety reviews of existing nuclear power plants. Reactor construction was temporarily suspended in some countries, but only Germany has taken the decision to eventually phase-out its commercial nuclear power programme.
In response to new safety standards promulgated by the independent Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA) of Japan, Japanese nuclear utilities have applied for safety reviews of 24 reactors (located at 13 sites) idled since the Fukushima earthquake. As of June 2015, the NRA has approved safety evaluations for a total of five reactors with phased reactor restarts to commence during September 2015 (Sendai 1 & 2 operated by the Kyushu Electric Power Company). Paladin anticipates that up to two-thirds of operable Japanese nuclear capacity will reinitiate operations over the next few years and that Japan will pursue a nuclear power programme representing 20-22% of total electricity generation by 2030.
Elsewhere, post-Fukushima, worldwide reactor plans have been re-affirmed and work resumed on reactors under construction accompanied by governmental approvals for more units. Worldwide, there are now 66 nuclear power plants under construction, four more than at the time of the Fukushima events. In China, the installed nuclear capacity has risen from 13 reactors (March 2011) to the current total of 26 operating units with 24 additional reactors being built.
Currently, there are 437 operational reactors consuming more than 170Mlb pa U3O8. Paladin forecasts that global uranium demand will reach 230Mlb pa U3O8 by 2020 and that the uranium production industry will struggle to meet that rapidly growing demand. Negatively impacted by persistent low uranium prices, total global uranium production declined to 145Mlb in 2014, a decrease of 9Mlb from the 2013 total.