Nuclear power around the world
Nuclear power

Nuclear power around the world

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 442 reactors currently operating in 33 countries produce around 10.5 % of the world’s electricity. According to the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) (data from December 2021) there are 58 units in construction in 20 countries including China, India, South Korea, Russia and Turkey. 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 53 units in operation and sixteen more reactors in construction. Next in the list is India with eight reactors in construction, followed by Russia and South Korea with four and Turkey with three. Last year, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) started operation for one of its reactors, making it the first Arab country with nuclear power.

Nuclear power around the world
Nuclear power around the world
CountryReactors in position to operateReactors under constructionReactors shut downElectrical production of nuclear origin (TWh)Electricity of nuclear origin (%)
Czech Republic6--28.3737.3
South Africa2--11.615.9
South Korea2442152.3229.6

Nuclear power plants in operation and construction in the world
Data from December 31 2021 / 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 106 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 over 51% nuclear energy; Hungary with 48% and Belgium and Slovenia with 39% and 37% respectively. Almost one third of the electricity consumed in the UE comes from Nuclear Sources. There are 177 reactors in operation and 13 in construction in all of Europe.

As to the rest of continents, there are two reactors in operation in Africa. In America there are 119, and four more in construction. Asia has 144 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 41 units in construction.

Nuclear power around the world
Construction work at the British HPC nuclear power plant

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 2021 there are 186 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.

Nuclear power around the world

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 ( The updated list of all nuclear reactors in operation and construction for every country can be visited in this IAEA link.