Nuclear mattersWorldwide Nuclear Power

Published 25 October 2007

For the last twenty years, nuclear power has provided about 16% of the world’s power needs; renewed interest in nuclear energy — energy

Nuclear power´s prominence as a major energy source will continue over the next several decades, according to new projections made by the Vienna, Austria-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has just published a new report — “Energy, Electricity and Nuclear Power for the Period up to 2030.” The IAEA makes two annual projections concerning the growth of nuclear power, a low and a high. The low projection assumes that all nuclear capacity which is currently under construction or firmly in the development pipeline gets completed and attached to the grid, but no other capacity is added. In this low projection, there would be growth in capacity from 370 GW(e) at the end of 2006 to 447 GW(e) in 2030 (a gigawatt = 1000; megawatts = 1 billion watts). In the IAEA’s high projection — which adds in additional reasonable and promising projects and plans — global nuclear capacity is estimated to rise to 679 GW(e) in 2030. This would be an average growth rate of about 2.5 percent a year. Nuclear power’s share of worldwide electricity production rose from less than 1 percent in 1960 to 16 percent in 1986, and this percentage has held more or less constant in the twenty-one years since 1986. Nuclear electricity generation has grown steadily at the same pace as overall global electricity generation. At the close of 2006 nuclear provided about 15 percent of total electricity worldwide.

The IAEA´s other key findings:

* There were 435 operating nuclear reactors around the world, and 29 more were under construction. The United States had the most with 103 operating units. France was next with 59. Japan followed with 55, plus one more under construction, and Russia had 31 operating, and seven more under construction.

* Of the 30 countries with nuclear power, the percentage of electricity supplied by nuclear ranged widely: from a high of 78 percent in France; to 54 percent in Belgium; 39 percent in Republic of Korea; 37 percent in Switzerland; 30 percent in Japan; 19 percent in the United States; 16 percent in Russia; 4 percent in South Africa; and 2 percent in China.

* Present nuclear power plant expansion is centred in Asia: 15 of the 29 units under construction at the end of 2006 were in Asia, and 26 of the last 36 reactors to have been connected to the grid were in Asia. India currently gets less than