A nuclear power plant is a heat energy station where nuclear reactors are the main source of heat. There are about 435 nuclear plants in operation in 31 countries according to the 2014 IAEA report. Most of these countries are in Europe, North America, and Asia. Over 75% of electricity generated in France is by nuclear plant while the Chinese nuclear power program is the fastest growing of its kind in the world.
However, some countries such as Italy, Germany, Belgium, and Spain are phasing out their nuclear power plants. Netherlands and Sweden have the same intentions. Some countries such as Australia, Austria, Malta, and Greece among other countries that remain opposed to nuclear power stations. This article will explore the countries who are home to the most nuclear power plants, and the reasons why some countries protest their construction.
Countries with Most Nuclear Plants
There are 99 nuclear power plants in the US. The reactors include 65 pressurized water reactors and 34 boiling water reactors. As of 2016, four new reactors are under construction while 33 have been completely shut down. The nuclear power plants of the United States accounted for 33% of world’s supply in 2013. The construction of most of the reactors in the US began in 1974. However, most of the constructions were canceled in the 1970s and 1980s on the heels of changing economics. Nuclear power has faced considerable opposition in the US. Enrico Fermi station was the first US nuclear station to face opposition from the public in 1957. Several anti-nuclear protests captured the world’s attention in the 1870s and 1980s with thousands of protesters being arrested.
Nuclear power is the main source of energy in France. It composes the largest share of the country’s energy consumption at 40%. 76.3% of France’s 546TWh of electricity is from the fission-electric power station. France has 58 nuclear power reactors that are managed by the Electricité de France, the main power generating and distributing company. The nuclear power industry in France has been labeled a success story and has made the country a leading provider of cheap energy that produces low greenhouse gas emissions. The nuclear plants have brought jobs and prosperity to the country. However, not all the French population supports the nuclear power in the country. There have been talks towards phasing out the 24 old power plants in the country by the year 2025.
As of 2016, China had 36 nuclear reactors having a total capacity of 31.4 GW. 20 reactors are still under construction while additional reactors are planned by 2020 that will have a capacity of 58 GW. The National Development and Reform Commission have an intention of raising China’s electricity produced by nuclear power to 6% by 2020. As of 2015, nuclear power accounted for 3% of the electric power in the country, making it the fastest-growing source of electric power. Nuclear power is considered to be an alternative to coal energy due to the fears of climate change and a shortage of fossil. The main nuclear power companies in China are China National Nuclear Corporation, and China General Nuclear Power Group. Just like other countries, China is experiencing somewhat of a public outcry over the construction of nuclear plants. This has been heightened by recent nuclear disasters such as Fukushima.
Controversies Associated With Nuclear Plants
Nuclear power has been surrounded by controversy of some degree since its inception. There is great debate over its deployment and the safety of the use of nuclear fission reactors to produce electricity. Opponents argue that nuclear power is a threat to the people and the environment due to the risk of radiation. Radiation can permeate deep within the human body, causing serious harm. However, although nuclear power plants do produce radiation, there is only the danger of contamination in the case of nuclear power plant accidents or malfunctions. Although the risk of such events happening exists, this risk remains low.