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Which Countries Have Nuclear Power?

Nuclear power spans the globe, with over 30 countries harnessing atomic energy for electricity. From the USA's vast reactor network to France's heavy reliance on nuclear, this technology is a cornerstone of modern energy strategies. But which nations lead in nuclear capacity, and how do they manage safety and waste? Discover the global nuclear landscape and its implications for our future. Ready to explore more?
Brendan McGuigan
Brendan McGuigan

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.

General Numbers

Brazil is one of 25 counties in the world with operating nuclear power plants.
Brazil is one of 25 counties in the world with operating nuclear power plants.

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.

United States

Switzerland is one of the countries with operating nuclear power plants.
Switzerland is one of the countries with operating nuclear power plants.

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

Ukraine, the site of the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, has active nuclear power plants.
Ukraine, the site of the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, has active nuclear power plants.

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.

Japan

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

France has more than 50 nuclear power reactors in operation, with a few more under construction.
France has more than 50 nuclear power reactors in operation, with a few more under construction.

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

About half of Slovakia's energy comes from nuclear power.
About half of Slovakia's energy comes from nuclear 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.

Other Countries

The energy from a nuclear power plant is produced through controlled nuclear reactions.
The energy from a nuclear power plant is produced through controlled nuclear reactions.

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.

Developing Plans

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many countries currently have nuclear power?

As of the latest data, there are 32 countries with operational nuclear power plants. These countries utilize nuclear energy for a variety of purposes, primarily for electricity generation. The United States leads with the highest number of reactors, followed by France and China. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) regularly updates the list and status of nuclear reactors worldwide.

Which country produces the most nuclear energy?

The United States is the largest producer of nuclear energy, accounting for approximately 30% of the world's total nuclear power generation. With a fleet of around 93 operational nuclear reactors as of early 2023, the U.S. has a significant lead over other countries in terms of nuclear energy output, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Are there any countries planning to phase out nuclear power?

Yes, several countries have announced plans to phase out nuclear power. Germany is one of the most notable examples, aiming to shut down all its nuclear plants by the end of 2022. Other countries like Belgium and Switzerland have also set timelines for phasing out nuclear energy, often citing safety concerns and the desire to transition to renewable energy sources.

What is the role of nuclear power in global energy production?

Nuclear power plays a significant role in global energy production, contributing about 10% of the world's electricity generation. It is considered a reliable source of baseload power that can operate continuously to meet the minimum demand. Nuclear energy is also seen as a low-carbon option that can help in the transition towards cleaner energy systems to combat climate change, as reported by the World Nuclear Association.

Which country was the first to develop nuclear power for electricity generation?

The United Kingdom was the first country to develop nuclear power for electricity generation. On August 27, 1956, the Calder Hall nuclear power plant in England was connected to the national grid, marking the beginning of commercial nuclear power production. This historic milestone paved the way for the widespread adoption of nuclear technology for energy purposes around the world.

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Discussion Comments

anon274583

I think that consumption of nuclear energy is increasing, which will eventually lead to dependency on it and no such scope for eco-alternatives.

anon99632

America only has 65 operable nuclear power plants, with an additional two decommissioned. These are located in thirty one states.

Glasshouse

@ Georgesplane- As for Israel and North Korea having nuclear Weapons; it is almost a guarantee. U.S. satellite flyovers have revealed all the necessary facilities and vehicles for nuclear weapons. There is also recorded seismic information as well as North Korea's confirmation of the test of a nuclear weapon.

Israel is suspected of testing nuclear weapons with South Africa in the late '70s. The Guardian also published documents from Israel to South Africa offering to sell the Apartheid regime nuclear warheads. The papers were signed by P.W. Botha and Shimon Peres and are available for public viewing on the newspapers website.

Georgesplane

The map of nations that have, most likely have, and share nuclear weapons is quite different from those who are nuclear capable for power generation. China, Russia, France, the UK, The U.S., Pakistan, and India are all confirmed to be Nuclear weapons capable. North Korea is suspected of being nuclear weapons capable because they have successfully detonated a nuclear device. Israel is thought to be nuclear capable, although they refuse to confirm or deny it.

A few of the former Soviet Satellites used to be nuclear weapons capable, but they have disarmed along with South Africa.

NATO has a nuclear weapons sharing program where the U.S has deployed weapons on NATO members territory. Current members sharing nukes are Belgium, Italy, Germany, and Turkey. Greece and Canada used to be members of the NATO sharing programs, but they have since disarmed.

As for nations looking to become nuclear powers it is speculated that Iran, Libya, and Syria have had or do have a nuclear arms program.

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    • Brazil is one of 25 counties in the world with operating nuclear power plants.
      By: Bastos
      Brazil is one of 25 counties in the world with operating nuclear power plants.
    • Switzerland is one of the countries with operating nuclear power plants.
      By: pavalena
      Switzerland is one of the countries with operating nuclear power plants.
    • Ukraine, the site of the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, has active nuclear power plants.
      By: bptu
      Ukraine, the site of the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, has active nuclear power plants.
    • France has more than 50 nuclear power reactors in operation, with a few more under construction.
      By: Dreaming Andy
      France has more than 50 nuclear power reactors in operation, with a few more under construction.
    • About half of Slovakia's energy comes from nuclear power.
      By: r-o-x-o-r
      About half of Slovakia's energy comes from nuclear power.
    • The energy from a nuclear power plant is produced through controlled nuclear reactions.
      By: Alex Tihonov
      The energy from a nuclear power plant is produced through controlled nuclear reactions.