1. The first commercial nuclear power stations started operation in the 1950s.
2. There are now over 440 commercial nuclear power reactors operating in 30 countries, with 377,000MWe of total capacity.
3. They provide about 14% of the world's electricity as continuous, reliable base-load power, and their efficiency is increasing.
4. 56 countries operate a total of about 250 research reactors and a further 180 nuclear reactors power some 140 ships and submarines.
In the 1950s attention turned to the peaceful purposes of nuclear fission, notably for power generation. Today, the world produces as much electricity from nuclear energy as it did from all sources combined in 1960. Civil nuclear power can now boast over 14,000 reactor years of experience and supplies almost 14% of global electricity needs, from reactors in 30 countries. In fact, many more than 30 countries use nuclear-generated power. Many countries have also built research reactors to provide a source of neutron beams for scientific research and the production of medical and industrial isotopes.
Today, only eight countries are known to have a nuclear weapons capability. By contrast, 56 operate civil research reactors, and 30 host some 440 commercial nuclear power reactors with a total installed capacity of over 377,000 MWe. This is more than three times the total generating capacity of France or Germany from all sources. Over 60 further nuclear power reactors are under construction, equivalent to 17% of existing capacity, while over 150 are firmly planned, equivalent to 46% of present capacity.
Sixteen countries depend on nuclear power for at least a quarter of their electricity. France gets around three quarters of its power from nuclear energy, while Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Slovenia and Ukraine get one third or more. Japan, Germany and Finland get more than a quarter of their power from nuclear energy, while in the USA one fifth is from nuclear. Among countries which do not host nuclear power plants, Italy gets about 10% of its power from nuclear, and Denmark about 8%.
In addition to commercial nuclear power plants, there are about 250 research reactors operating, in 56 countries, with more under construction. These have many uses including research and the production of medical and industrial isotopes, as well as for training. The use of reactors for marine propulsion is mostly confined to the major navies where it has played an important role for five decades, providing power for submarines and large surface vessels. About 140 ships are propelled by some 180 nuclear reactors and over 13,000 reactor-years of experience has been gained with marine reactors. Russia and the USA have decommissioned many of their nuclear submarines from the Cold War era.
|Global Nuclear Electricity Generation as of 2010|