A total of 33 countries run nuclear reactors. Image: Unsplash/Nicolas HIPPERT
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- Global nuclear power generation rose by 3.9% in 2021, according to the latest World Nuclear Industry Status Report.
- It says 33 countries run nuclear power reactors, but that only 15 are still actively pursuing the technology.
- Only 3 countries that had nuclear energy programs have so far shut off all reactors – Italy in 1987, Kazakhstan in 1998 and Lithuania in 2009.
According to the 2022 World Nuclear Industry Status Report, global nuclear power generation rose by 3.9 percent in 2021, the same rate by which it had dropped in 2020. In 2022, 411 reactors were operational around the world - 26 fewer than in 2011. Another 29 are currently in long-term storage and 53 are under construction - more than half in China and India.
The rapid expansion of renewables and negative public sentiment towards nuclear energy created by disasters such as those in Chernobyl or Fukushima have been turning nuclear power into an also-ran of global energy generation. Nuclear power has been experiencing a slow decline from a 17.5 percent peak share of global electicity generation in 1996 to a share of only 9.8 percent in 2021, as more countries put on hold or abandon their nuclear power strategies than are expanding them.
According to the report, 33 countries currently run nuclear power reactors, but only 15 are listed as still actively pursuing the technology - including 2020 nuclear energy newcomers Belarus and the United Arab Emirates.
The world's fastest growing nuclear energy program is also one of the youngest: China has used nuclear energy since the early 1990s and currently runs 55 nuclear reactors, the majority of which joined the grid in just the past ten years. The United States meanwhile remain the globe's biggest nuclear energy stronghold, with 92 operational reactor units as of July 2022, down 12 since 2011. Despite the decline, the U.S. program is listed as active, as is the Japanese one, which saw a massive loss of 38 units since 2011. At currently ten active nuclear reactors, it is expected that Japan will soon officially abandon new nuclear energy construction.
Only three countries that had nuclear energy programs have so far shut off all reactors - Italy in 1987, Kazakhstan in 1998 and Lithuania in 2009. Germany recently extended its program in the course of the current energy crisis but plans to end nuclear energy production in 2023.
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The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.
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