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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

Mapped: Nuclear Reactors in the U.S.

America has 92 reactors in operation, providing about 20% of the country’s electricity.

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Nuclear Reactors in the U.S.

Mapped: Nuclear Reactors in the U.S.

The United States is the world’s largest producer of nuclear power, representing more than 30% of the world’s nuclear power generation.

America has 92 reactors in operation, providing about 20% of the country’s electricity.

The above infographic uses data from the International Atomic Energy Agency to showcase every single nuclear reactor in America.

Nuclear Development

Nuclear power in the U.S. dates back to the 1950s.

George Westinghouse produced the first commercial pressurized water reactor in 1957 in Shippingport, Pennsylvania. The technology is used in approximately half of the 450 nuclear power reactors worldwide.

Today, over 30 different power companies across 30 states operate nuclear facilities in the U.S., and most nuclear power reactors are located east of the Mississippi River.

Illinois has more reactors than any state, with 11 reactors and the largest total nuclear electricity generation capacity at about 11,582 megawatts (MW). Meanwhile, the largest reactor is at the Grand Gulf Nuclear Station in Port Gibson, Mississippi, with a capacity of about 1,500 MW.

Most American reactors in operation were built between 1967 and 1990. Until 2013 there had been no new constructions started since 1977, according to the World Nuclear Association.

Usually, U.S. power reactors receive a license to operate for 60 years. The oldest operating reactor, Nine Mile Point Unit 1 in New York, began commercial operation in December 1969. The newest reactor to enter service, Watts Bar Unit 2, came online in 2016.

The Future of Nuclear Power in the U.S.

U.S. nuclear power’s capacity peaked in 2012 at about 102,000 MW, with 104 operating nuclear reactors operating.

US nuclear generation and capacity

Since nuclear plants generate nearly 20% of U.S. electricity and about half of the country’s carbon‐free electricity, the recent push from the Biden administration to reduce fossil fuels and increase clean energy will require significant new nuclear capacity.

Today, there are two new reactors under construction (Vogtle 3 and 4) in Georgia, expected to come online before 2023.

Furthermore, some of the Inflation Reduction Act provisions include incentives for the nuclear industry. Starting in 2024, for example, utilities will be able to get a credit of $15 per megawatt-hour for electricity produced by existing nuclear plants. Nuclear infrastructure projects could also be eligible for up to $250 billion worth of loans to update, repurpose, and revitalize energy infrastructure that has stopped working.

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Energy Shift

What is the Cost of Europe’s Energy Crisis?

As European gas prices soar, countries are introducing policies to try and curb the energy crisis.

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What is the Cost of Europe’s Energy Crisis?

Europe is scrambling to cut its reliance on Russian fossil fuels.

As European gas prices soar eight times their 10-year average, countries are introducing policies to curb the impact of rising prices on households and businesses. These include everything from the cost of living subsidies to wholesale price regulation. Overall, funding for such initiatives has reached $276 billion as of August.

With the continent thrown into uncertainty, the above chart shows allocated funding by country in response to the energy crisis.

The Energy Crisis, In Numbers

Using data from Bruegel, the below table reflects spending on national policies, regulation, and subsidies in response to the energy crisis for select European countries between September 2021 and July 2022. All figures in U.S. dollars.

CountryAllocated Funding Percentage of GDPHousehold Energy Spending,
Average Percentage
🇩🇪 Germany$60.2B1.7%9.9%
🇮🇹 Italy$49.5B2.8%10.3%
🇫🇷 France$44.7B1.8%8.5%
🇬🇧 U.K.$37.9B1.4%11.3%
🇪🇸 Spain$27.3B2.3%8.9%
🇦🇹 Austria$9.1B2.3%8.9%
🇵🇱 Poland$7.6B1.3%12.9%
🇬🇷 Greece$6.8B3.7%9.9%
🇳🇱 Netherlands$6.2B0.7%8.6%
🇨🇿 Czech Republic$5.9B2.5%16.1%
🇧🇪 Belgium$4.1B0.8%8.2%
🇷🇴 Romania$3.8B1.6%12.5%
🇱🇹 Lithuania$2.0B3.6%10.0%
🇸🇪 Sweden$1.9B0.4%9.2%
🇫🇮 Finland$1.2B0.5%6.1%
🇸🇰 Slovakia$1.0B1.0%14.0%
🇮🇪 Ireland$1.0B0.2%9.2%
🇧🇬 Bulgaria$0.8B1.2%11.2%
🇱🇺 Luxembourg$0.8B1.1%n/a
🇭🇷 Croatia$0.6B1.1%14.3%
🇱🇻 Lativia$0.5B1.4%11.6%
🇩🇰 Denmark$0.5B0.1%8.2%
🇸🇮 Slovenia$0.3B0.5%10.4%
🇲🇹 Malta$0.2B1.4%n/a
🇪🇪 Estonia$0.2B0.8%10.9%
🇨🇾 Cyprus$0.1B0.7%n/a

Source: Bruegel, IMF. Euro and pound sterling exchange rates to U.S. dollar as of August 25, 2022.

Germany is spending over $60 billion to combat rising energy prices. Key measures include a $300 one-off energy allowance for workers, in addition to $147 million in funding for low-income families. Still, energy costs are forecasted to increase by an additional $500 this year for households.

In Italy, workers and pensioners will receive a $200 cost of living bonus. Additional measures, such as tax credits for industries with high energy usage were introduced, including a $800 million fund for the automotive sector.

With energy bills predicted to increase three-fold over the winter, households in the U.K. will receive a $477 subsidy in the winter to help cover electricity costs.

Meanwhile, many Eastern European countries—whose households spend a higher percentage of their income on energy costs— are spending more on the energy crisis as a percentage of GDP. Greece is spending the highest, at 3.7% of GDP.

Utility Bailouts

Energy crisis spending is also extending to massive utility bailouts.

Uniper, a German utility firm, received $15 billion in support, with the government acquiring a 30% stake in the company. It is one of the largest bailouts in the country’s history. Since the initial bailout, Uniper has requested an additional $4 billion in funding.

Not only that, Wien Energie, Austria’s largest energy company, received a €2 billion line of credit as electricity prices have skyrocketed.

Deepening Crisis

Is this the tip of the iceberg? To offset the impact of high gas prices, European ministers are discussing even more tools throughout September in response to a threatening energy crisis.

To reign in the impact of high gas prices on the price of power, European leaders are considering a price ceiling on Russian gas imports and temporary price caps on gas used for generating electricity, among others.

Price caps on renewables and nuclear were also suggested.

Given the depth of the situation, the chief executive of Shell said that the energy crisis in Europe would extend beyond this winter, if not for several years.

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