Nuclear power has more than just an image problem.

With huge up front development costs, it is increasingly seen as dangerous and governments are responding to people’s fears by closing plants, blocking new construction and even halting reactor construction mid way. In its latest Vital Signs Online (VSO) report, Washington DC-based think tank Worldwatch Institute documented the numbers for falling nuclear power usage across the globe.

Will the decline continue in coming decades even as governments try to cap carbon emissions and thereby mitigate the dangers of climate change? French nuclear power company Areva said that although it will post losses for 2011, a corporate come-back is bound to be close on the horizon. But it remains unclear whether the bounce back will come from nuclear power or from other forms of clean technology Areva uses.