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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

Visualizing the Scale of Global Fossil Fuel Production

How much oil, coal, and natural gas do we extract each year? See the scale of annual fossil fuel production in perspective.

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The Scale of Global Fossil Fuel Production

Fossil fuels have been our predominant source of energy for over a century, and the world still extracts and consumes a colossal amount of coal, oil, and gas every year.

This infographic visualizes the volume of global fossil fuel production in 2021 using data from BPโ€™s Statistical Review of World Energy.

The Facts on Fossil Fuels

In 2021, the world produced around 8 billion tonnes of coal, 4 billion tonnes of oil, and over 4 trillion cubic meters of natural gas.

Most of the coal is used to generate electricity for our homes and offices and has a key role in steel production. Similarly, natural gas is a large source of electricity and heat for industries and buildings. Oil is primarily used by the transportation sector, in addition to petrochemical manufacturing, heating, and other end uses.

Hereโ€™s a full breakdown of coal, oil, and gas production by country in 2021.

Coal Production

If all the coal produced in 2021 were arranged in a cube, it would measure 2,141 meters (2.1km) on each sideโ€”more than 2.5 times the height of the worldโ€™s tallest building.

China produced 50% or more than four billion tonnes of the worldโ€™s coal in 2021. Itโ€™s also the largest consumer of coal, accounting for 54% of coal consumption in 2021.

Rank Country2021 Coal Production
(million tonnes)
% of Total
#1๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ China 4,126.050%
#2๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ณ India 811.310%
#3๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฉ Indonesia 614.08%
#4๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ U.S. 524.46%
#5๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ Australia 478.66%
#6๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ Russia 433.75%
#7๐Ÿ‡ฟ๐Ÿ‡ฆ South Africa 234.53%
#8๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Germany 126.02%
#9๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ฟ Kazakhstan 115.71%
#10๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ฑ Poland 107.61%
๐ŸŒ Other 600.97%
Total8,172.6100%

India is both the second largest producer and consumer of coal. Meanwhile, Indonesia is the worldโ€™s largest coal exporter, followed by Australia.

In the West, U.S. coal production was down 47% as compared to 2011 levels, and the descent is likely to continue with the clean energy transition.

Oil Production

In 2021, the United States, Russia, and Saudi Arabia were the three largest crude oil producers, respectively.

Rank Country2021 Oil Production
(million tonnes)
% of Total
#1๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ U.S. 711.117%
#2๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ Russia 536.413%
#3๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Saudi Arabia 515.012%
#4๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Canada 267.16%
#5๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ถ Iraq 200.85%
#6๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ China 198.95%
#7๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ท Iran 167.74%
#8๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ช UAE 164.44%
#9 ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ท Brazil156.84%
#10๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ผ Kuwait 131.13%
๐ŸŒ Other 1172.028%
Total4221.4100%

OPEC countries, including Saudi Arabia, made up the largest share of production at 35% or 1.5 billion tonnes of oil.

U.S. oil production has seen significant growth since 2010. In 2021, the U.S. extracted 711 million tonnes of oil, more than double the 333 million tonnes produced in 2010.

Natural Gas Production

The world produced 4,036 billion cubic meters of natural gas in 2021. The above graphic converts that into an equivalent of seven billion cubic meters of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to visualize it on the same scale as oil and gas.

Here are the top 10 producers of natural gas in 2021:

Rank Country2021 Natural Gas Production
(billion m3)
% of Total
#1๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ U.S. 934.223%
#2๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ Russia 701.717%
#3๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ท Iran 256.76%
#4๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ China 209.25%
#5๐Ÿ‡ถ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Qatar 177.04%
#6๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Canada 172.34%
#7๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ Australia 147.24%
#8๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Saudi Arabia 117.33%
#9๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ด Norway 114.33%
#10๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ฟ Algeria 100.82%
๐ŸŒ Other 1106.327%
Total4,036.9100%

The U.S. was the largest producer, with Texas and Pennsylvania accounting for 47% of its gas production. The U.S. electric power and industrial sectors account for around one-third of domestic natural gas consumption.

Russia, the next-largest producer, was the biggest exporter of gas in 2021. It exported an estimated 210 billion cubic meters of natural gas via pipelines to Europe and China. Around 80% of Russian natural gas comes from operations in the Arctic region.

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Energy Shift

Mapped: Biggest Sources of Electricity by State and Province

The U.S. and Canada rely on a different makeup of sources to generate their electricity. How does each state and province make theirs?

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Mapped: Biggest Sources of Electricity by State and Province

On a national scale, the United States and Canada rely on a very different makeup of sources to generate their electricity.

The U.S. primarily uses natural gas, coal, and nuclear power, while Canada relies on both hydro and nuclear. That said, when zooming in on the province or state level, individual primary electricity sources can differ greatly.

Here’s a look at the electricity generation in the states and provinces of these two countries using data from the Nuclear Energy Institute (2021) and the Canada Energy Regulator (2019).

Natural Gas

Natural gas is widely used for electricity generation in the United States. Known as a โ€œcleanerโ€ fossil fuel, its abundance, coupled with an established national distribution network and relatively low cost, makes it the leading electricity source in the country.

In 2021, 38% of the 4120 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity generated in the U.S. came from natural gas. Not surprisingly, more than 40% of American states have natural gas as their biggest electricity source.

Here are some states that have the largest shares of natural gas-sourced electricity.

State/Province% of Electricity from Natural Gas
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Rhode Island90.9
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Delaware85.8
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Massachusetts76.9
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Florida73.9
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Mississippi72.1

In Canada, natural gas is only the third-biggest electricity source (behind hydro and nuclear), accounting for 11% of the 632 TWh of electricity produced in 2019. Alberta is the only province with natural gas as its main source of electricity.

Nuclear

Nuclear power is a carbon-free energy source that makes up a considerable share of the energy generated in both the U.S. and Canada.

19% of Americaโ€™s and 15% of Canadaโ€™s electricity comes from nuclear power. While the percentages are close to one another, itโ€™s good to note that the United States generates 6 to 7 times more electricity than Canada each year, yielding a lot more nuclear power than Canada in terms of gigawatt hours (GWh) per year.

As seen in the map, many states and provinces with nuclear as their main source of electricity are concentrated in the eastern half of the two countries.

In the U.S., Illinois, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina are top producers in terms of GWh/year. Illinois and South Carolina also have nuclear as their primary electricity source, whereas Pennsylvaniaโ€™s electricity production from natural gas exceeds that from nuclear.

The vast majority of Canada’s nuclear reactors (18 of 19) are in Ontario, with the 19th in New Brunswick. Both of these provinces rely on nuclear as their biggest source of electricity.

Renewables: Hydro, Wind and Solar

Out of the different types of renewable electricity sources, hydro is the most prevalent in North America. For example, 60% of Canadaโ€™s and 6% of the U.S.โ€™s electricity comes from hydropower.

Here are the states and provinces that have hydro as their biggest source of electricity.

State/Province% of Electricity from Hydro
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Manitoba 97
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Newfoundland and Labrador95
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Quebec94
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ British Columbia87
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Yukon80
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Washington65
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Idaho51
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Vermont50
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Northwest Territories 47
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Oregon46

Wind and solar power collectively comprise a small percentage of total electricity generated in both countries. While no state or province relies on solar as its biggest source of electricity, Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, and South Dakota rely primarily on wind for their electricity, along with Canadaโ€™s Prince Edward Island (PEI).

Coal and Oil

Coal and oil are emission-heavy electricity sources still prevalent in North America.

Currently, 22% of Americaโ€™s and 7% of Canadaโ€™s electricity comes from coal, with places such as Kentucky, Missouri, West Virginia, Saskatchewan, and Nova Scotia still relying on coal as their biggest sources of electricity.

Certain regions also use petroleum to generate their electricity. Although its use for this purpose is declining, it is still the biggest source of electricity in both Hawaii and Nunavut.

Over the next few years, it will be interesting to observe the use of these fossil fuels for electricity generation in the U.S. and Canada. Despite the differences in climate commitments between the two countries, lowering coal and oil-related emissions may be a critical part of hitting decarbonization targets in a timely manner.

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