Nuclear power - statistics & facts

Nuclear energy is based on the power derived from the process of nuclear fission. During fission, a neutron bombards a large uranium atom, which splits, releasing more neutrons that start a chain reaction as they collide with other atoms. The fission of uranium atoms releases energy that can heat water to extremely high temperatures, the steam of which is used to spin turbines connected to electricity generators. In 2020, nuclear electricity generation capacity worldwide stood at roughly 390 gigawatts. Despite growing safety concerns in the aftermath of disasters such as Chernobyl and Fukushima, nuclear power capacity is set to grow in the coming decades, specially in Asia.

Nuclear energy: global snapshot

In 1954, the first nuclear power plant came online in the Russian city of Obninsk. Since then, global nuclear electricity capacity grew from just five megawatts to more than 370 gigawatts in the past decade. After the 2011 nuclear disaster at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi plant, concerns about the safety of nuclear plants regained the spotlight, and many countries – including Germany, Italy, and Switzerland – vowed to accelerate the shutdown of existing plants and stop investment in new facilities. Nevertheless, worldwide nuclear power capacity is expected to continue growing in coming years, surpassing 430 gigawatts by 2035. As of May 2022, there were 439 nuclear power reactors in operation across 33 countries.

The world's largest nuclear energy producers

The United States is the largest nuclear power generating country in the world, and also accounted for almost one-third of the world’s nuclear electricity consumption in 2020. It was followed by France and China. At a whopping 70.6 percent share of nuclear in electricity generation output, France relies heavily on this energy source. Meanwhile, motivated by its low emission rate for electricity production, the share of nuclear in the Chinese electricity mix has more than doubled in the past decade, nearing five percent in 2020. China had the largest number of nuclear reactors planned as of 2022 and is expected to become the largest nuclear power producer in coming decades.

Uranium production and supply

Fuel supply remains essential for any country wishing to increase their nuclear power generation output. Globally, roughly 48,000 metric tons of uranium was produced from mines in 2020, with Kazakhstan, Australia, and Namibia as the leading uranium producers. The Kazakh KazAtomProm is the largest uranium-producing company in the world, accounting for 22 percent of the global market in 2020. It was followed by multinationals Orano and Uranium One, headquartered in France and Canada, respectively.

Interesting statistics

In the following 4 chapters, you will quickly find the 25 most important statistics relating to "Global nuclear power".

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