Nuclear power is a source of energy that guarantees electric supply, puts a stop to polluting emissions, reduces exterior energy dependence and produces constant electricity. An increasingly amount of countries agree with this and support the continuity of their nuclear power plants with authorizations to operate for 60 or even 80 years –as in the United States– and the construction of new plants.
The United States has just started to grant authorizations for their reactors to operate for 80 years
The 443 reactors currently operating in 35 countries produce around 10% of the world’s electricity. According to the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) (data from December 2020) there are 54 units in construction in 20 countries including China, India, Russia, South Korea, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Finland and France. Aware of the challenges that energy and the environment face, these countries are building new plants because they consider that nuclear energy is an essential source for the present and future of their countries.
China is the country building the most reactors in the world. It has 50 units in operation and thirteen more reactors in construction. Next in the list is India with seven reactors in construction, followed South Korea with four and the UAE and Russia with three. UAE recently started operation for one of its reactors, making it the first Arab country with nuclear power.
|Country||Reactors in position to operate||Reactors under construction||Reactors shut down||Electrical production of nuclear origin (TWh)||Electricity of nuclear origin (%)|
Nuclear power plants in operation and construction in the world
Data from December 31 2020 / Source: PRIS-IAEA and Foro Nuclear
Nuclear energy in the European Union
In the European Union (UE), 13 of the 27 Member States have nuclear power plants. There are 107 reactors in operation, producing nearly 26% of the yearly energy consumed in the whole of the EU. Another four reactors are in construction in countries like Slovakia, Finland and France.
In the EU, almost one third of the electricity is nuclear in origin
With its 56 operating reactors, France is the EU country with most nuclear units. Over 70% of its electricity is from nuclear sources, the greatest percentage in the world. It is followed by Slovakia and Ukraine, with 54% nuclear energy; Hungary with 49% and Belgium and Sweden with 47% and 34% respectively. Almost one third of the electricity consumed in the UE comes from Nuclear Sources. There are 181 reactors in operation and 12 in construction in all of Europe.
As to the rest of continents, there are two reactors in operation in Africa. In America there are 120, and four more in construction. Asia has 140 reactors in a position to operate successfully, although there are some that are momentarily shut down as is the case of Japan. Asia is the continent with greatest support to nuclear technology, with 38 units in construction.
Continuity of operation in nuclear power plants
Continuity of operation is the operation of a nuclear power plant, maintaining its safety level, beyond the period that was initially considered in its design. This is a common practice in different countries around the world, the right strategy to comply with the basic aspects of sustainable development since it guarantees independence and diversification of energy supply whilst contributing to the fight against climate change.
Various international studies reflect that it is technically viable to operate nuclear power plants beyond their design period, maintaining the level of safety and reliability demanded by national and international legislations.
Thus, as of December 31 2019 there are 189 nuclear reactors in the world that have received authorization from different regulatory authorities to operate beyond 40 years, employing various schemes: in some cases the authorization is for 20 additional years, in others it is for a determinate period and in others for an indefinite time. In the United States, six units have received authorization to operate for 80 years. They represent over 30% of the world’s nuclear reactors, with the following distribution:
The nuclear programs from various countries and all the nuclear sites are under the supervision and control of their local regulatory authorities as well as from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) located in Vienna (www.iaea.org). The updated list of all nuclear reactors in operation and construction for every country can be visited in this IAEA link.