Number of nuclear power plants (NPP): 442
First plant: Obninsk, Russia, 1954
Most powerful: Chooz, France, 1500MW
World energy share: 17%
Number of countries with NPP: 30
Number under construction: 27
Who would have thought that there are that many nuclear power plants operating in the world? Collectively, they've provided the equivalent of more than 10,000 years of operation for two accidents. The very minor Three Mile Island issue and the more major Chernobyl situation. Three Mile Island was a huge non-issue that the anti-nuclear lobby blew up into a potential catastrophe and Chernobyl highlighted the reckless abandonment of quality standards that comes about under socialism. Chernobyl could not happen in the West, as our reactors are designed to much more rigorous safety standards and our processes are such that the brazen over-riding of them by the staff at Chernobyl that brought about their disaster are unlikely to occur. Leaving aside the facts of the matter, the nuclear power industry has the best safety record of any energy industry by far. Many more people die in coal mines in China each year than were killed at Chernobyl, for example.
Where are these reactors located? The following is a list of the top 11 countries showing the number of reactors, the amount of power (MW) and the percentage of national energy needs that are being met by nuclear power.
United States 104 95.6 19.8%Looking at the table you can see why the French are so keen for other countries to have a carbon tax, as 75% of their energy is provided by nuclear power. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, the French really are the pits.
France 58 61.6 75.0%
Japan 53 43.6 36.0%
United Kingdom 34 12.7 28.9%
Russia 30 19.8 14.4%
Canada 20 13.6 12.4%
Germany 19 21.1 31.2%
South Korea 15 12.0 42.8%
India 14 2.5 2.7%
Ukraine 13 11.4 43.8%
Sweden 11 9.4 46.8%
Of the top 25 largest nuclear plants in the world 19 are in France, Germany has 4 and Japan has the other 2. There are 41 new plants under construction with 92 being planned (Japan 28, China 26, Russia 15, India 12, South Korea 10, South Africa 1).
Germany introduced legislation a few years to phase out all of its nuclear power plants by about 2020. Given that nearly one-third of its power comes from them they will need to rely on other countries for their power supply, which will significantly weaken their political power within Europe. Not only that, but they will be forced to pay a huge price in carbon taxes by returning to coal fired electricity. Chancellor Merkel has recently announced a review of the policy to shut down the plants due to the huge economic and strategic impact.
Given the safety record of the nuclear industry compared to any other (including non-energy) the fact that Germany was willing to go non-nuclear shows the power that the environmental socialist movement wields and the cost they're prepared to inflict on society on totally symbolic grounds.
Clearly, there is nothing to fear from nuclear power. The accidents at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl have only served to make the industry even safer. That's how improvements come about, of course. When a plane crashes due to some design fault then the remediation of that fault makes the world's fleet safer. Same with cars, trucks, TVs, toasters and stepladders. Accidents don't make us stop using technology, they make it better.
Australia has more coal than we know what to do with so we don't need to move to nuclear power to meet our energy needs just yet. If we do then it will be a purely political decision based on symbolism ahead of common sense. Australia leads the world in the development of clean coal technologies, which we will be able to export to the developing world and, particularly, China and India. In this way we will do more to address the supposed issue of CO2 production than a hundred Kyoto Protocols would ever achieve.