Nuclear power is again on the radar as the energy crisis picks up steam, with no letup in sight. The Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan has said in a recent statement that nuclear generation will play a crucial role for the country’s energy security. Japan plans to restart more idled nuclear plants in the coming years and is looking to develop next-generation reactors.
Europe is also witnessing a resurgence of nuclear energy, which until recently was seen as holding no promise for the future: the worsening energy crisis has spurred renewed interest in France, while Belgium is backtracking on its resolve to phase out nuclear electricity generation. In Germany, the energy crisis has also revived a debate over whether to take another look at a technology it had long turned its back on.
According to the IAEA, global operating nuclear power capacity now stands at around 388 GW, provided by 433 operational reactors.
The top five countries in terms of both the number of reactors and net electrical capacity are the US, France, China, Russia and Japan (see Fig. 1). However, this ranking may soon change. IHS Markit expects that China’s total newly built capacity will overtake that of France within five years and the United States within 10 years.