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Who Is Building Nuclear Reactors?

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nuclear reactors under construction by country

Who Is Building Nuclear Reactors?

Nuclear power is back in the spotlight as countries look to supplement renewable energy sources with a reliable and clean source of power.

The 2010s were a decade of decline for nuclear power in the wake of the Fukushima disaster in Japan. However, the recent push for clean energy is reviving the industry with several countries building new reactors, and others restarting or extending old ones.

The above infographic uses data from the World Nuclear Association to show the top 10 countries by nuclear capacity under construction as of July 2022.

How Many Nuclear Reactors Are In the World?

Before looking at under-construction figures, it’s important to contextualize the current nuclear reactor landscape.

There are roughly 440 nuclear reactors operating worldwide, generating around 10% of the world’s electricity annually.

CountryNumber of operable reactorsNet capacity (MWe)
U.S. 🇺🇸9395,523
France 🇫🇷5661,370
China 🇨🇳5350,034
Russia 🇷🇺3727,727
Japan* 🇯🇵3331,679
South Korea 🇰🇷2423,091
India 🇮🇳226,795
Canada 🇨🇦1913,624
Ukraine 🇺🇦1513,107
UK 🇬🇧127,343

*Only 10 of Japan’s 33 operable reactors are currently operating.

In the U.S., 93 reactors generate more than 30% of the world’s nuclear power, more than any other nation. In France, nuclear plants are the main source of power, accounting for 70% of annual electricity generation.

China’s nuclear industry has expanded rapidly over the last decade. The number of reactors in China jumped from 13 in 2010 to 53 in 2021, accompanied by a roughly five-fold increase in nuclear generation capacity.

India is an outlier—its generation capacity is lesser than the UK despite having 10 more operating reactors. This is largely because 17 of India’s 22 reactors have less than 300 MWe of capacity and are considered “small”.

Overall, around 280 of the world’s 440 reactors are over 30 years old. While these reactors are still performing at high capacity, new reactors are being built to support the aging fleet.

The Top 10 Countries Building New Reactors

The majority of new nuclear reactors are being built in Asia, with China topping the list followed by India.

CountryNumber of reactors under constructionGross Capacity Under Construction, MWe
China 🇨🇳2123,511
India 🇮🇳86,600
Turkey 🇹🇷44,800
South Korea 🇰🇷34,200
Russia 🇷🇺32,810
UK 🇬🇧23,440
UAE 🇦🇪22,800
Japan* 🇯🇵22,653
U.S. 🇺🇸22,500
Bangladesh 🇧🇩22,400
Ukraine* 🇺🇦22,178
Slovakia 🇸🇰2942
France 🇫🇷11,650
Brazil* 🇧🇷11,405
Egypt 🇪🇬11,200
Belarus 🇧🇾11,194
Iran 🇮🇷11,057
Argentina 🇦🇷129
Total5965,369

*Reactor construction is currently suspended in Japan, Ukraine, and Brazil.

China’s reliance on nuclear power is increasing as the economy transitions away from coal. With 21 reactors under construction, the country is set to expand its nuclear capacity by more than 40% before 2030. It’s also building the world’s first commercial small modular reactor (SMR), which will have the capacity to power more than 500,000 households annually.

Following China from afar is India, with eight reactors under construction that nearly double its generation capacity. While all reactors today are powered by uranium, India has an ambitious plan to develop a thorium-fueled reactor to reap its vast resources of thorium, a non-fissile radioactive material with the potential to be used as nuclear fuel.

Overall, the Asian continent (ex-Russia) accounts for 36 of the 59 reactors under construction. Meanwhile, Turkey is building four reactors including its first operational reactor, which is expected to come online in 2023.

As of July 2022, the largest under-construction reactors are in the UK with gross capacities of 1,720 MWe each. However, this may change as new constructions start with hundreds of reactors planned for construction across the globe.

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Energy Shift

Ranked: The World’s Largest Lithium Producers in 2023

Three countries account for almost 90% of the lithium produced in the world.

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Voronoi graphic showing the top lithium producers in 2023.

The World’s Largest Lithium Producers in 2023

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

Three countries—Australia, Chile, and China—accounted for 88% of lithium production in 2023.

In this graphic, we list the world’s leading countries in terms of lithium production. These figures come from the latest USGS publication on lithium statistics (published Jan 2024).

Australia Leads, China Approaches Chile

Australia, the world’s leading producer, extracts lithium directly from hard-rock mines, specifically the mineral spodumene.

The country saw a big jump in output over the last decade. In 2013, Australia produced 13,000 metric tons of lithium, compared to 86,000 metric tons in 2023.

CountryLithium production 2023E (metric tons)
🇦🇺 Australia86,000
🇨🇱 Chile44,000
🇨🇳 China33,000
🇦🇷 Argentina9,600
🇧🇷 Brazil4,900
🇨🇦 Canada3,400
🇿🇼 Zimbabwe3,400
🇵🇹 Portugal380
🌍 World Total184,680

Chile is second in rank but with more modest growth. Chilean production rose from 13,500 metric tons in 2013 to 44,000 metric tons in 2023. Contrary to Australia, the South American country extracts lithium from brine.

China, which also produces lithium from brine, has been approaching Chile over the years. The country increased its domestic production from 4,000 metric tons in 2013 to 33,000 last year.

Chinese companies have also increased their ownership shares in lithium producers around the globe; three Chinese companies are also among the top lithium mining companies. The biggest, Tianqi Lithium, has a significant stake in Greenbushes, the world’s biggest hard-rock lithium mine in Australia.

Argentina, the fourth country on our list, more than tripled its production over the last decade and has received investments from other countries to increase its output.

With all the top producers increasing output to cover the demand from the clean energy industry, especially for electric vehicle (EV) batteries, the lithium market has seen a surplus recently, which caused prices to collapse by more than 80% from a late-2022 record high.

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Energy Shift

Visualizing Copper Production by Country in 2023

Chile and Peru account for one-third of the world’s copper output.

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Voronoi graphic illustrating global copper production in 2023.

Visualizing Copper Production by Country in 2023

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

Copper is considered an essential metal for the clean energy transition because it is a great conductor of electricity.

As a result, governments around the world have been encouraging the construction of new mines, and mining companies have been seeking new projects and acquiring existing mines to meet the growing demand.

In this graphic, we illustrate global copper production in 2023, based on data from the U.S. Geological Survey, Mineral Commodity Summaries, as of January 2024.

Most Copper Comes from South America

Chile and Peru account for one-third of the world’s copper output.

CountryRegion2023E Production
(Million tonnes)
🇨🇱 ChileSouth America5.0
🇵🇪 PeruSouth America2.6
🇨🇩 Congo (Kinshasa)Africa2.5
🇨🇳 ChinaAsia1.7
🇺🇸 United StatesNorth America1.1
🇷🇺 RussiaEurope/Asia0.9
🇦🇺 AustraliaOceania0.8
🇮🇩 IndonesiaAsia0.8
🇿🇲 ZambiaAfrica0.8
🇲🇽 MexicoNorth America0.7
🇰🇿 KazakhstanAsia0.6
🇨🇦 CanadaNorth America0.5
🇵🇱 PolandEurope0.4
🌍 Rest of World--3.1
World total (rounded)--21.5

Chile is also home to the two largest mines in the world, Escondida and Collahuasi.

Meanwhile, African countries have rapidly increased their production. The Democratic Republic of Congo, for example, transitioned from being a secondary copper producer in the late 1990s to becoming the third-largest producer by 2023.

Part of the growth in copper mining in Africa is attributed to high investment from China. Chinese mining companies represent 8% of Africa’s total output in the mining sector.

Within its territory, China has also seen a 277% growth in copper production over the last three decades.

In the U.S., Arizona is the leading copper-producing state, accounting for approximately 70% of domestic output. Copper is also mined in Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah.

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