After the 2011 nuclear disaster at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi plant, many began to protest the use of nuclear sources. However, it continues to be a common source of energy. Worldwide generation of nuclear energy is expected to grow from around 2.6 billion kilowatt hours in 2018 to about 3.6 billion kilowatt hours in 2050. In 1954, the first nuclear power plant came online in the Russian city of Obninsk. In 2019, there were 443 nuclear power reactors in operation globally, out of which 95 were located in the United States.
The United States is the largest nuclear power generating country in the world, accounting for almost one third of the world’s nuclear electricity generation, followed by France and China. At a whopping 70.6 percent of nuclear share of electricity generation, France relies heavily on nuclear power as a source of energy. Meanwhile, motivated by the low emission rate of nuclear power, the nuclear share in the Chinese energy mix multiplied itself by 2.5 times in the last ten years, reaching almost five percent in 2019. This is remarkable considering the general trend of countries turning away from nuclear energy, such as Germany and Italy. Furthermore, China currently only operates around 47 out of 443 global nuclear reactors as of April 2020, but has 44 more in the pipeline, the highest in the world.
At this speed, China might surpass France and the United States in terms of nuclear power generation in the foreseeable future. However, fuel supply remains essential for any country wishing to increase the nuclear generation volume. Globally, over 53,000 metric tons of uranium were produced from mines in 2019, with Kazakhstan, Canada and Australia being the leading producers. The Kazakh KazAtomProm is the world's largest uranium producing company, accounting for 23 percent of the market share in 2019, followed by Orano.