Nuclear generation began more than 50 years ago and now generates as much global electricity as was produced then by all sources. Some two-thirds of world population lives in nations where nuclear power plants are an integral part of electricity production and industrial infrastructures. Half the world's people live in countries where new nuclear power reactors are in planning or under construction. Thus, a rapid expansion of global nuclear power would require no fundamental change - simply an acceleration of existing strategies.
Today nearly 440 nuclear reactors produce electricity around the world. More than 15 countries rely on nuclear power for 25% or more of their electricity. In Europe and Japan, the nuclear share of electricity is over 30%. In the U.S., nuclear power creates 20% of electricity.
Around the world, scientists in more than 50 countries use nearly 300 research reactors to investigate nuclear technologies and to produce radioisotopes for medical diagnosis and cancer therapy. Meanwhile, on the world's oceans, nuclear reactors have powered over 400 ships without harm to crews or the environment.
In the Cold War's aftermath, a key activity is the removal of nuclear material from weapons and its conversion to fuel for civil nuclear power.
Nuclear power provides energy independence and security of supply. France, with 60 million people, obtains over 75% of its electricity from nuclear power and is the world's largest net exporter of electricity. Italy's 60 million people have no nuclear power and are the world's largest importers of electricity.
Table of the World's Nuclear Power Reactors
Nuclear Power in the World Today
Nuclear Share of Electricity Generation Figures
Plans for New Reactors Worldwide
Radioisotopes in Medicine
Radioisotopes in Industry
Emerging nuclear energy countries
India and Pakistan