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Nuclear Vs Non-Nuclear Powered Countries: 2024 Facts

Nuclear is the world's second largest source of low-carbon power, so says the World Nuclear Association.

It supplied 2,653 TWh of electricity from roughly 440 power reactors in 2021, which worked out at around 10% of the world's electricity.

How many nuclear reactors are in the UK?

More than 50 countries utilise nuclear energy, including here in the UK, which is home to nine nuclear reactors with a further two under construction.

Britain tends to get the bulk of its electricity from CCGT, with UK reactors only contributing 14.8% of the nation’s electricity in 2021.

In Europe, France is number one for nuclear, with 56 reactors generating 69.0% of the country's electricity in 2021. Only Ukraine came close to the French tally with 15 reactors and a 55% nuclear share.

However, no country on the planet has more nuclear reactors than the US, with 92 operable reactors. In 2021, nuclear made up just short of a fifth (19.6%) of the country's electricity.

Which countries don’t use nuclear power?

Not everyone’s a fan though. Major European players such as Italy, Portugal and Norway have no nuclear power stations and are keen to keep it that way.

They’re not the only ones either; that resistance to nuclear power is shared by Australia, Austria, Denmark, Ireland, Estonia, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, New Zealand, and Serbia.

Germany, Spain and Switzerland could soon join that list too, with nuclear phase-outs planned by 2030.

Meanwhile, Japan has reduced its nuclear dependency since 2011’s Fukushima accident, from 30% of the country’s electricity to just 7.2% in 2021.

France – Europe’s nuclear number one – has been trying to clean up its act too. A 2015 energy policy had aimed to shrink France’s share of nuclear generation to 50% by 2025. But this target has been pushed back to 2035 after the French Energy Minister labelled it unrealistic.

It was also argued that hitting the 2025 target would increase the country's carbon dioxide emissions, endanger security of supply, and put jobs at risk.

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What the pros of nuclear power reactors?

  • Reliable, efficient, and cost-effective
  • High power output
  • A solution to plugging the energy gap
  • No greenhouse gas emissions from nuclear power plants during operation

What is so bad about nuclear power reactor?

  • High upfront costs
  • Generates huge amounts of long-lasting toxic waste
  • Uranium is technically non-renewable
  • Malfunctions can be catastrophic

Sources: Greenpeace, EDF, World Nuclear Association.

Banner photo: Lukáš Lehotský / Unsplash

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