As of 2012, over 25 countries have nuclear power plants in operation, with more planned or under construction around the world. These include the US, France, and China as well as Canada, the UK, and Russia. The Fukushima Daiichi disaster in Japan in 2011, however, made some countries uncertain about the safety of such facilities.
There are fewer than 450 commercial nuclear power reactors on Earth as of 2012, with multiple reactors located at numerous plants, and a number of others under construction. Together, these facilities produce more than 370,000 megawatts, or just under 15% of the world’s total energy use. About 30 countries have them in operation, and while some nations plan on constructing new power plants, other countries have begun shutting them down.
The US has by far the most nuclear power facilities, with more than 100 reactors in operation in 2012 at 65 power plants. All told, those in the US account for around 20% of the country’s energy needs. A large push has been made by some groups to increase the number of plants in the country, while others oppose these projects, citing the potential for disaster and issues over waste disposal.
France has more than 50 nuclear power reactors in operation, with a few more under construction or in planning. It is one of only a handful of nations to produce the majority of its energy from nuclear sources. France meets about 77% of its energy needs through these plants, the largest percentage of any nation in the world.
Before the accident at the Fukushima plant in 2011, Japan covered roughly 30% of its energy needs through 50 nuclear power reactors. In March of 2011, however, damage from an earthquake and resulting tsunami led to several explosions and core meltdowns of three reactors at the power plant. After this disaster, only two reactors in the country remained operational. As of 2012, there are plans to bring the rest of them back online temporarily, and to have all nuclear operations within Japan cease by about 2030; various renewable energy sources will be pursued to replace them.
Russia maintains over 30 reactors, as of 2012, producing just over 15% of its total energy needs. After a period of relative stagnation in nuclear development following the catastrophic meltdown at Chernobyl, Russia has undertaken plans to grow it immensely. More than 20 new plants are either currently being built or have been ordered, while about 24 more have been proposed.
More Than 50% of Power
Only two countries aside from France generate more than half of their energy through nuclear power. Belgium’s seven reactors create about 54% of their energy, although they are considering decommissioning them and do not have plans to build more. Slovakia has only four reactors that generate just over 50% of their energy, with plans to construct two more.
Only a handful of other nations have more than 15 nuclear reactors. Ukraine has 15, responsible for almost half of its energy needs, and has another 13 planned or proposed. Canada, India, the United Kingdom, and South Korea each have more than 15 reactors, with South Korea planning on growing that number substantially in the future.
A number of countries have campaigns to grow their nuclear programs enormously in the coming years. China has the most ambitious growth program, with plans and proposals to add over 100 reactors to the 15 they have in 2012, which would make them the top producer of nuclear power in the world. India is considering building almost 60 more reactors, in addition to the 20 already in operation.
Smaller Programs and Elimination
Countries with only a handful of nuclear power reactors include Pakistan, Romania, and Mexico. Slovenia, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, and Spain, as well as Taiwan, South Africa, and Argentina also have a few among them. Many of these nations are likely to keep their operations small, though some have plans to build one or a few more.
Germany produces over 17% of its energy through just nine reactors, which they are currently decommissioning as they move to other energy production methods. Brazil only has two, but they once had plans to build many more. Following the Fukushima disaster, however, those plans were largely abandoned.