NUCLEAR POWERGermany to Turn Off Nuclear Power, but Other Countries Not Ready Yet

By Srinivas Mazumdaru

Published 14 April 2023

Germany is shutting down its last three atomic power plants this weekend after previously delaying the nuclear phaseout due to the war in Ukraine.

The energy crisis sparked by the war in Ukraine forced Germany last year to extend the life of the last three nuclear power plants in the country by a few months beyond the scheduled phaseout at the end of 2022.

The reactors will finally go offline on Saturday, April 15.

Despite calls for a delay in shutting down the plants, the German government said there’s no turning back and the phaseout “is a done deal.”

There are, however, some countries that continue to put their faith in nuclear energy, or at least view it as a source of carbon-free energy to combat climate change.

There are currently 412 nuclear reactors in operation in 41 countries worldwide, according to the World Nuclear Industry Status Report (WNISR).

Nuclear power accounted for about 9.8% of global electricity generation in 2021, down from the peak of 17.5% in 1996.

The share of nuclear in the world’s energy mix is now below renewable energy generation. A report released this week by energy think tank Ember stated that wind and solar energy made up a record high 12% of global electricity production last year.

Most nuclear reactors were built between 1968 and 1986, mainly in Europe, the United States, the former Soviet Union, and Japan.

The global average age of these reactors is 31 years.

China: Nuclear Ambitions at Home and Abroad
China is a major player when it comes to the construction and operation of nuclear power plants. The country now operates 57 reactors and 21 more reactors are under construction.

China has by far the youngest large nuclear fleet in the world, with as many as 41 reactors — almost every four in five — having connected to the grid within the past 10 years. 

The share of nuclear power in the country’s electricity mix was almost 5% in 2022.

Beijing also has nuclear ambitions abroad, but it has so far only exported reactors to Pakistan. All six units currently being operated in the South Asian country are of Chinese design.

China’s other international projects, including in the UK and Romania, have so far not proceeded to the stage of construction.

China does not have a repository for highly radioactive waste, but it is exploring one in the Gobi Desert. Its nuclear waste is currently stored at various domestic reactor sites.