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Visualizing Nuclear Power Production by Country

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Nuclear Power Production by Country

Nearly 450 reactors around the world supply various nations with nuclear power, combining for about 10% of the world’s electricity, or about 4% of the global energy mix.

But while some countries are turning to nuclear as a clean energy source, nuclear energy generation overall has seen a slowdown since its peak in the 1990s.

The above infographic breaks down nuclear electricity generation by country in 2020 using data from the Power Reactor Information System (PRIS).

Ranked: The Top 15 Countries for Nuclear Power

Just 15 countries account for more than 91% of global nuclear power production. Hereโ€™s how much energy these countries produced in 2020:

RankCountryNumber of Operating ReactorsNuclear Electricity Supplied
[GWh]
% share
#1U.S. ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ96789,91930.9%
#2China ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ50344,74813.5%
#3France ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท58338,67113.3%
#4Russia ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ39201,8217.9%
#5South Korea ๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ท24152,5836.0%
#6Canada ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ1992,1663.6%
#7Ukraine ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ฆ1571,5502.8%
#8Germany ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช660,9182.4%
#9Spain ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ755,8252.2%
#10Sweden ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ช747,3621.9%
#11U.K. ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง1545,6681.8%
#12Japan ๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ต3343,0991.7%
#13India ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ณ2240,3741.6%
#14Belgium ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ช732,7931.3%
#15Czechia ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฟ628,3721.1%
Rest of the World ๐ŸŒŽ44207,3408.1%
Total4482,553,208100.0%

In the U.S., nuclear power produces over 50% of the country’s clean electricity. Additionally, 88 of the country’s 96 operating reactors in 2020 received approvals for a 20-year life extension.

China, the world’s second-largest nuclear power producer, is investing further in nuclear energy in a bid to achieve its climate goals. The plan, which includes building 150 new reactors by 2035, could cost as much as $440 billion.

On the other hand, European opinions on nuclear energy are mixed. Germany is the eighth-largest on the list but plans to shutter its last operating reactor in 2022 as part of its nuclear phase-out. France, meanwhile, plans to expand its nuclear capacity.

Which Countries Rely Most on Nuclear Energy?

Although total electricity generation is useful for a high-level global comparison, itโ€™s important to remember that there are some smaller countries not featured above where nuclear is still an important part of the electricity mix.

Hereโ€™s a breakdown based on the share of nuclear energy in a country’s electricity mix:

RankCountryNuclear Share of Electricity Mix
#1France ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท70.6%
#2Slovakia ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฐ53.1%
#3Ukraine ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ฆ51.2%
#4Hungary ๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡บ48.0%
#5Bulgaria ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ฌ40.8%
#6Belgium ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ช39.1%
#7Slovenia ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฎ37.8%
#8Czechia ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฟ37.3%
#9Armenia ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ฒ34.5%
#10Finland ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ฎ33.9%
#11Switzerland ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ญ32.9%
#12Sweden ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ช29.8%
#13South Korea ๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ท29.6%
#14Spain ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ22.2%
#15Russia ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ20.6%
#16Romania ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡ด19.9%
#17United States ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ19.7%
#18Canada ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ14.6%
#19United Kingdom ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง14.5%
#20Germany ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช11.3%

European countries dominate the leaderboard with 14 of the top 15 spots, including France, where nuclear power is the country’s largest source of electricity.

Itโ€™s interesting to note that only a few of these countries are top producers of nuclear in absolute terms. For example, in Slovakia, nuclear makes up 53.6% of the electricity mixโ€”however, the country’s four reactors make up less than 1% of total global operating capacity.

On the flipside, the U.S. ranks 17th by share of nuclear power in its mix, despite producing 31% of global nuclear electricity in 2020. This discrepancy is largely due to size and population. European countries are much smaller and produce less electricity overall than larger countries like the U.S. and China.

The Future of Nuclear Power

The nuclear power landscape is constantly changing.

There were over 50 additional nuclear reactors under construction in 2020, and hundreds more are planned primarily in Asia.

As countries turn away from fossil fuels and embrace carbon-free energy sources, nuclear energy might see a resurgence in the global energy mix despite the phase-outs planned in several countries around he globe.

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Energy Shift

Mapped: Solar and Wind Power by Country

Wind and solar generate over a tenth of the worldโ€™s electricity. Taken together, they are the fourth-largest source of electricity, behind coal, gas, and hydro.

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Solar and Wind per Country

Mapped: Solar and Wind Power by Country

Wind and solar generate over a tenth of the worldโ€™s electricity. Taken together, they are the fourth-largest source of electricity, behind coal, gas, and hydro.

This infographic based on data from Ember shows the rise of electricity from these two clean sources over the last decade.

Europe Leads in Wind and Solar

Wind and solar generated 10.3% of global electricity for the first time in 2021, rising from 9.3% in 2020, and doubling their share compared to 2015 when the Paris Climate Agreement was signed.

In fact, 50 countries (26%) generated over a tenth of their electricity from wind and solar in 2021, with seven countries hitting this landmark for the first time: China, Japan, Mongolia, Vietnam, Argentina, Hungary, and El Salvador.

Denmark and Uruguay achieved 52% and 47% respectively, leading the way in technology for high renewable grid integration.

RankTop Countries Solar/Wind Power Share
#1๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ฐ Denmark 51.9%
#2๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡พ Uruguay 46.7%
#3๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡บ Luxembourg 43.4%
#4๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡น Lithuania 36.9%
#5๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ Spain 32.9%
#6๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ช Ireland 32.9%
#7๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡น Portugal 31.5%
#8๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Germany 28.8%
#9๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ท Greece 28.7%
#10๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง United Kingdom 25.2%

From a regional perspective, Europe leads with nine of the top 10 countries. On the flipside, the Middle East and Africa have the fewest countries reaching the 10% threshold.

Further Renewables Growth Needed to meet Global Climate Goals

The electricity sector was the highest greenhouse gas emitting sector in 2020.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the sector needs to hit net zero globally by 2040 to achieve the Paris Agreementโ€™s goals of limiting global heating to 1.5 degrees. And to hit that goal, wind and solar power need to grow at nearly a 20% clip each year to 2030.

Despite the record rise in renewables, solar and wind electricity generation growth currently doesnโ€™t meet the required marks to reach the Paris Agreementโ€™s goals.

In fact, when the world faced an unprecedented surge in electricity demand in 2021, only 29% of the global rise in electricity demand was met with solar and wind.

Transition Underway

Even as emissions from the electricity sector are at an all-time high, there are signs that the global electricity transition is underway.

Governments like the U.S., Germany, UK, and Canada are planning to increase their share of clean electricity within the next decade and a half. Investments are also coming from the private sector, with companies like Amazon and Apple extending their positions on renewable energy to become some of the biggest buyers overall.

More wind and solar are being added to grids than ever, with renewables expected to provide the majority of clean electricity needed to phase out fossil fuels.

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Energy Shift

How Far Are We From Phasing Out Coal?

In 2021 coal-fired electricity generation reached all-time highs. Here’s the pathway that would be needed to phase it out of the energy mix.

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How Far Are We from Phasing Out Coal?

At the COP26 conference last year, 40 nations agreed to phase coal out of their energy mixes.

Despite this, in 2021, coal-fired electricity generation reached all-time highs globally, showing that eliminating coal from the energy mix will not be a simple task.

This infographic shows the aggressive phase-out of coal power that would be required in order to reach net zero goals by 2050, based on an analysis by Ember that uses data provided by the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Low-Cost Comes at a High Environmental Cost

Coal-powered electricity generation rose by 9.0% in 2021 to 10,042 Terawatt-hours (TWh), marking the biggest percentage rise since 1985.

The main reason is cost. Coal is the worldโ€™s most affordable energy fuel. Unfortunately, low-cost energy comes at a high cost for the environment, with coal being the largest source of energy-related CO2 emissions.

China has the highest coal consumption, making up 54% of the worldโ€™s coal electricity generation. The countryโ€™s consumption jumped 12% between 2010 and 2020, despite coal making up a lower percentage of the country’s energy mix in relative terms.

Top Consumers2020 Consumption (Exajoules) Share of global consumption
China ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ82.354.3%
India ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ณ17.511.6%
United States ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ9.26.1%
Japan ๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ต4.63.0%
South Africa ๐Ÿ‡ฟ๐Ÿ‡ฆ3.52.3%
Russia ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ3.32.2%
Indonesia ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฉ3.32.2%
South Korea ๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ท3.02.0%
Vietnam ๐Ÿ‡ป๐Ÿ‡ณ2.11.4%
Germany ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช1.81.2%

Together, China and India account for 66% of global coal consumption and emit about 35% of the worldโ€™s greenhouse gasses (GHG). If you add the United States to the mix, this goes up to 72% of coal consumption and 49% of GHGs.

How Urgent is to Phase Out Coal?

According to the United Nations, emissions from current and planned fossil energy infrastructure are already more than twice the amount that would push the planet over 1.5ยฐC of global heating, a level that scientists say could bring more intense heat, fire, storms, flooding, and drought than the present 1.2ยฐC.

Apart from being the largest source of CO2 emissions, coal combustion is also a major threat to public health because of the fine particulate matter released into the air.

As just one example of this impact, a recent study from Harvard University estimates air pollution from fossil fuel combustion is responsible for 1 in 5 deaths globally.

The Move to Renewables

Coal-powered electricity generation must fall by 13% every year until 2030 to achieve the Paris Agreementโ€™s goals of keeping global heating to only 1.5 degrees.

To reach the mark, countries would need to speed up the shift from their current carbon-intensive pathways to renewable energy sources like wind and solar.

How fast the transition away from coal will be achieved depends on a complicated balance between carbon emissions cuts and maintaining economic growth, the latter of which is still largely dependent on coal power.

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