• The USA is the world's largest producer of nuclear power, accounting for more than 30% of worldwide nuclear generation of electricity.
  • The country's 100 nuclear reactors produced 798 billion kWh in 2015, over 19% of total electrical output. There are four reactors under construction.
  • Following a 30-year period in which few new reactors were built, it is expected that four more new units will come online by 2021, these resulting from 16 licence applications made since mid-2007 to build 24 new nuclear reactors.
  • Government policy changes since the late 1990s have helped pave the way for significant growth in nuclear capacity. 
  • Some states have liberalized wholesale electricity markets, which makes the financing of capital-intensive power projects difficult, and coupled with lower gas prices since 2009, have put the economic viability of some existing reactors and proposed projects in doubt.
  • Nuclear power capacity worldwide is increasing steadily, with over 60 reactors under construction in 15 countries.
  • Most reactors on order or planned are in the Asian region, though there are major plans for new units in Russia.
  • Significant further capacity is being created by plant upgrading.
  • Plant life extension programs are maintaining capacity, in USA particularly.

Today there are some 440 nuclear power reactors operating in 31 countries plus Taiwan, with a combined capacity of over 385 GWe. In 2014 these provided 2411 billion kWh, over 11% of the world's electricity.

Over 60 power reactors are currently being constructed in 13 countries plus Taiwan (see Table below), notably China, South Korea, UAE and Russia.

Each year, the OECD's International Energy Agency (IEA) sets out the present situation and also reference and other, particularly carbon reduction scenarios. World Energy Outlook 2014 had a special focus on nuclear power, and extends the scope of scenarios to 2040. In its New Policies scenario, installed nuclear capacity growth is 60% through 543 GWe in 2030 and to 624 GWe in 2040 out of a total of 10,700 GWe, with the increase concentrated heavily in China (46% of it), plus India, Korea and Russia (30% of it together) and the USA (16%), countered by a 10% drop in the EU. Despite this, the percentage share of nuclear power in the global power mix increases to only 12%, well below its historic peak. Low-Nuclear and so-called High-Nuclear cases give 366 and 767 GWe nuclear respectively in 2040. The low-carbon ‘450 Scenario’ gives a cost-effective transition to limiting global warming assuming an effective international agreement in 2015, and this brings about more than doubling nuclear capacity to 862 GWe in 2040, while energy-related CO2 emissions peak before 2020 and then decline. In this scenario, almost all new generating capacity built after 2030 needs to be low-carbon.

"Despite the challenges it currently faces, nuclear power has specific characteristics that underpin the commitment of some countries to maintain it as a future option," it said. "Nuclear plants can contribute to the reliability of the power system where they increase the diversity of power generation technologies in the system. For countries that import energy, it can reduce their dependence on foreign supplies and limit their exposure to fuel price movements in international markets."

It is noteworthy that in the 1980s, 218 power reactors started up, an average of one every 17 days. These included 47 in USA, 42 in France and 18 in Japan. These were fairly large - average power was 923.5 MWe. So it is not hard to imagine a similar number being commissioned in the years ahead. But with China and India getting up to speed in nuclear energy and a world energy demand increasing, a realistic estimate of what is possible (but not planned at this stage) might be the equivalent of one 1000 MWe unit worldwide every 5 days.

Increased capacity

Increased nuclear capacity in some countries is resulting from the uprating of existing plants. This is a highly cost-effective way of bringing on new capacity.

There is a question of scale, and large units will not fit into small grids. A conservative guide is that peak power demand must be met with effective installed capacity and about 20% reserve margin. Also, the largest single plant should not be more than 10% of base-load, or 5% of peak demand.

Numerous power reactors in USA, Belgium, Sweden and Germany, for example, have had their generating capacity increased.

In Switzerland, the capacity of its five reactors has been increased by 13.4%.

In the USA, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved more than 140 uprates totalling over 6500 MWe since 1977, a few of them "extended uprates" of up to 20%.

Spain has had a program to add 810 MWe (11%) to its nuclear capacity through upgrading its nine reactors by up to 13%. Most of the increase is already in place. For instance, the Almarez nuclear plant was boosted by 7.4% at a cost of US$ 50 million.

Finland Finland boosted the capacity of the original Olkiluoto plant by 29% to 1700 MWe. This plant started with two 660 MWe Swedish BWRs commissioned in 1978 and 1980. The Loviisa plant, with two VVER-440 (PWR) reactors, has been uprated by 90 MWe (10%).

Sweden's utilities have uprated all three plants. The Ringhals plant was uprated by about 305 MWe over 2006-14. Oskarshamn 3 was uprated by 21% to 1450 MWe at a cost of €313 million. Forsmark 2 had a 120 MWe uprate (12%) to 2013.

Nuclear plant construction

Most reactors currently planned are in the Asian region, with fast-growing economies and rapidly-rising electricity demand.

Many countries with existing nuclear power programs (Argentina, Armenia, Brazil, Bulgaria, China, Czech Rep., India, Pakistan, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, South Korea, South Africa, UAE, Ukraine, UK, USA) have plans to build new power reactors (beyond those now under construction).

In all, over 160 power reactors with a total net capacity of some 182,000 MWe are planned and over 300 more are proposed. Energy security concerns and greenhouse constraints on coal burning have combined with basic economics to put nuclear power back on the agenda for projected new capacity in many countries.

In the USA there are plans for five new reactors, beyond the five under construction now. It is expected that some of the new reactors will be on line by 2020.

In Finland, construction is now under way on a fifth, very large reactor which is expected to come on line in 2018, and plans are progressing for another large one to follow it.

France is building a similar 1600 MWe unit at Flamanville, for operation from 2018.

In the UK, four similar 1600 MWe units are planned, and a further 6000 MWe is proposed.

Romania's second power reactor istarted up in 2007, and plans are being implemented for two further Canadian units to be built there.

Slovakia is completing two 470 MWe units at Mochovce, to operate from 2017.

Bulgaria is planning to build a large new reactor at Kozloduy.

Belarus is building two large new Russian reactors at Ostrovets.

In Russia, several reactors and two small ones are under active construction, and one recently put into operation is a large fast neutron reactor. About 25 further reactors are then planned, some to replace existing plants. This will increase the country's present nuclear power capacity significantly by 2030. In addition about 5 GW of nuclear thermal capacity is planned. A small floating power plant is expected to be commissioned by 2018 and others are planned to follow.

Poland is planning two 3000 MWe nuclear power plants.

South Korea plans to bring a further further four reactors into operation by 2018, and another eight by about 2030, giving total new capacity of 17,200 MWe. All of these are the Advanced PWRs of 1400 MWe. These APR-1400 designs have evolved from a US design which has US NRC design certification, and four been sold to the UAE (see below).

Japan has two reactors under construction but another three which were likely to start building by mid-2011 have been deferred.

In China, now with 32 operating reactors on the mainland, the country is well into the growth phase of its nuclear power programme. There were eight new grid connections in 2015. Over 20 more reactors are under construction, including the world's first Westinghouse AP1000 units, and a demonstration high-temperature gas-cooled reactor plant. Many more units are planned, including two largely indigenous designs – the Hualong One and CAP1400. China aims to more than double its nuclear capacity by 2020.

India has 21 reactors in operation, and six under construction. This includes two large Russian reactors and a large prototype fast breeder reactor as part of its strategy to develop a fuel cycle which can utilise thorium. Over 20 further units are planned. 18 further units are planned, and proposals for more - including western and Russian designs - are taking shape following the lifting of trade restrictions.

Pakistan has third and fourth 300 MWe reactors under construction at Chashma, financed by China. Two larger Chinese power reactors are planned.

In Kazakhstan, a joint venture with Russia's Atomstroyexport envisages development and marketing of innovative small and medium-sized reactors, starting with a 300 MWe Russian design as baseline for Kazakh units.

In Iran a 1000 MWe PWR at Bushehr came on line in 2011, and further units are planned.

The United Arab Emirates awarded a $20.4 billion contract to a South Korean consortium to build four 1400 MWe reactors by 2020. They are under construction, on schedule.

Jordan has committed plans for its first reactor, and is developing its legal and regulatory infrastructure.

Turkey has contracts signed for four 1200 MWe Russian nuclear reactors at one site and four European ones at another. Its legal and regulatory infrastructure is well-developed.

Vietnam has committed plans for its first reactors at two sites (2x2000 MWe), and is developing its legal and regulatory infrastructure. The first plant will be a turnkey project built by Atomstroyexport. The second will be Japanese.

Fuller details of all the above are in linked country papers.

Plant life extension and retirements

Most nuclear power plants originally had a nominal design lifetime of 25 to 40 years, but engineering assessments of many plants have established that many can operate longer. In the USA over 75 reactors have been granted licence renewals which extend their operating lives from the original 40 out to 60 years, and operators of most others are expected to apply for similar extensions. Such licence extensions at about the 30-year mark justify significant capital expenditure for replacement of worn equipment and outdated control systems.

In France, there are rolling ten-year reviews of reactors. In 2009 the Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) approved EdF's safety case for 40-year operation of the 900 MWe units, based on generic assessment of the 34 reactors. There are plans to take reactor lifetimes out to 60 years, involving substantial expenditure.

The Russian government is extending the operating lives of most of the country's reactors from their original 30 years, for 15 years, or for 25 years in the case of the newer VVER-1000 units, with significant upgrades.

The technical and economic feasibility of replacing major reactor components, such as steam generators in PWRs, and pressure tubes in CANDU heavy water reactors, has been demonstrated. The possibilities of component replacement and licence renewals extending the lifetimes of existing plants are very attractive to utilities, especially in view of the public acceptance difficulties involved in constructing replacement nuclear capacity.

On the other hand, economic, regulatory and political considerations have led to the premature closure of some power reactors, particularly in the United States, where reactor numbers have fell from 110 to 99, in eastern Europe, in Germany and likely in Japan.

It should not be assumed that reactors will close when their licence is due to expire, since licence renewal is now common. However, new plants coming on line are balanced by old plants being retired. Over 1996-2015, 75 reactors were retired as 80 started operation. There are no firm projections for retirements over the next two decades, but the World Nuclear Association estimates that at least 60 of those now operating will close by 2030, most being small plants. The 2015 WNA Nuclear Fuel Report reference case has 132 reactors closing by 2035, using very conservative assumptions about licence renewal, and 287 coming on line, including many in China.

The World Nuclear Power Reactor table gives a fuller and (for current year) possibly more up to date overview of world reactor status.

Power reactors under construction

Start †   Reactor Type Gross MWe
2016 India, NPCIL Kudankulam 2 PWR 950
2016 India, NPCIL Kakrapar 3 PHWR 640
2016 India, Bhavini Kalpakkam FBR 470
2016 Russia, Rosenergoatom Novovoronezh II-1 PWR 1070
2016 USA, TVA Watts Bar 2 PWR 1180
2016 China, CNNC Sanmen 1 PWR 1250
2016 China, SPI Haiyang 1 PWR 1250
2016 China, CNNC Changjiang 2 PWR 650
2016 China, CNNC Fuqing 3 PWR 1080
2016 China, CGN Fangchenggang 2 PWR 1080
2016 India, NPCIL Rajasthan 7 PHWR 640
2016 Pakistan, PAEC Chashma 3 PWR 300
2017 Slovakia, SE Mochovce 3 PWR 440
2017 Russia, Rosenergoatom Pevek FNPP PWR x 2 70
2017 Russia, Rosenergoatom Leningrad II-1 PWR 1070
2017 UAE, ENEC Barakah 1 PWR 1400
2017 China, CGN Taishan 1 PWR 1700
2017 China, CGN Taishan 2 PWR 1700
2017 China, CNNC Sanmen 2 PWR 1250
2017 China, SPI Haiyang 2 PWR 1250
2017 China, CGN Yangjiang 4 PWR 1080
2017 China, CNNC Fuqing 4 PWR 1080
2017 China, China Huaneng Shidaowan HTR 200
2017 China, CNNC Tianwan 3 PWR 1060
2017 Russia, Rosenergoatom Rostov 4 PWR 1200
2017 Korea, KHNP Shin-Kori 4 PWR 1350
2017 Korea, KHNP Shin-Hanul 1 PWR 1350
2017 India, NPCIL Kakrapar 4 PHWR 640
2017 India, NPCIL Rajasthan 8 PHWR 640
2017 Pakistan, PAEC Chashma 4 PWR 300
2018 Russia, Rosenergoatom Novovoronezh II-2 PWR 1070
2018 Slovakia, SE Mochovce 4 PWR 440
2018 France, EdF Flamanville 3 PWR 1600
2018 Finland, TVO Olkilouto 3 PWR 1720
2018 Korea, KHNP Shin-Hanul 2 PWR 1350
2018 UAE, ENEC Barakah 2 PWR 1400
2018 Brazil Angra 3 PWR 1405
2018 Argentina Carem25 PWR 27
2018 China, CGN Yangjiang 5 PWR 1080
2018 China, CNNC Tianwan 4 PWR 1060
2019 USA, Southern Vogtle 3 PWR 1200
2019 USA, SCEG Summer 2 PWR 1200
2019 UAE, ENEC Barakah 3 PWR 1400
2019 China, CGN Fangchenggang 3 PWR 1150
2019 China, CGN Hongyanhe 5 PWR 1120
2019 China, CGN Yangjiang 6 PWR 1080
2019 China, CNNC Fuqing 5 PWR 1150
2019 Romania, SNN Cernavoda 3 PHWR 720
2020 Russia, Rosenergoatom Leningrad II-2 PWR 1070
2020 China, CGN Hongyanhe 6 PWR 1120
2020 China, CGN Ningde 5 PWR 1150
2020 China, CGN Fangchenggang 4 PWR 1150
2020 China, CNNC Fuqing 6 PWR 1150
2020 UAE, ENEC Barakah 4 PWR 1400
2020 Romania, SNN Cernavoda 4 PHWR 720

† Latest announced year of proposed commercial operation

World Nuclear Association information papers


  • Jordan imports most of its energy and seeks greater energy security as well as lower electricity prices.
  • It is aiming to have two 1000 MWe nuclear power units in operation by 2025 to provide nearly half the country’s electricity.
  • Jordan has significant uranium resources, some in phosphorite deposits.

Jordan imports over 95% of its energy needs, at a cost of about one-fifth of its GDP. It generated 17.3 TWh, mostly from oil, and imported 0.3 TWh net in 2013 for its six million people, consumption being 14.5 TWh. In 2012, due to gas supply constraints from Egypt, its electricity supply supply was 84% from heavy fuel oil and diesel, instead of natural gas which previously provided the majority, and 5% was imported. In 2013, 74% of electricity was from oil.

It has 2400 MWe of generating capacity and expected to need 3600 MWe by 2015, 5000 MWe by 2020 and 8000 MWe by 2030 when it expects doubled electricity consumption. About 6800 MWe of new plant is needed by 2030, with one third of this projected to be nuclear. Per capita electricity consumption is about 2000 kWh/yr. Jordan has regional grid connection of 500 MWe with Egypt, 300 MWe with Syria, and it is increasing links with Israel and Palestine. This will both increase energy security and provide justification for larger nuclear units.

Also it has a "water deficit" of about 600 million cubic metres per year (1500 demand, 900 supply). It pumps about 60 million m3/yr of fossil subartesian water from the Disi/Saq aquifer, and this is set to rise to 160 million m3/yr in 2013. It contains elevated, but not hazardous, levels of radionuclides, principally radium. (Drinking 2 litres per day would give a dose of 1.0 to 1.5 mSv/yr.)

Jordan's 2007 national energy strategy envisaged 29% of primary energy from natural gas, 14% from oil shale, 10% from renewables and 6% from nuclear by 2020.

  • The first commercial nuclear power stations started operation in the 1950s.
  • There are over 440 commercial nuclear power reactors operable in 31 countries, with over 390,000 MWe of total capacity. About 60 more reactors are under construction.
  • They provide over 11% of the world's electricity as continuous, reliable base-load power, without carbon dioxide emissions.
  • 55 countries operate a total of about 245 research reactors, and a further 180 nuclear reactors power some 140 ships and submarines.

Nuclear technology uses the energy released by splitting the atoms of certain elements. It was first developed in the 1940s, and during the Second World War to 1945 research initially focussed on producing bombs which released great energy by splitting the atoms of particular isotopes of either uranium or plutonium.

In the 1950s attention turned to the peaceful purposes of nuclear fission, notably for power generation. Today, the world produces as much electricity from nuclear energy as it did from all sources combined in the early years of nuclear power. Civil nuclear power can now boast over 16,800 reactor years of experience and supplies almost 11.5% of global electricity needs, from reactors in 31 countries. In fact, through regional transmission grids, many more than those countries depend on nuclear-generated power.

Many countries have also built research reactors to provide a source of neutron beams for scientific research and the production of medical and industrial isotopes.

Today, only eight countries are known to have a nuclear weapons capability. By contrast, 55 countries operate about 245 civil research reactors, over one-third of these in developing countries. Now 31 countries host some 447 commercial nuclear power reactors with a total installed capacity of over 390,000 MWe (see linked table for up to date figures). This is more than three times the total generating capacity of France or Germany from all sources. About 60 further nuclear power reactors are under construction, equivalent to 16% of existing capacity, while over 160 are firmly planned, equivalent to nearly half of present capacity.

Nuclear Electricity Production column graph

Sixteen countries depend on nuclear power for at least a quarter of their electricity. France gets around three-quarters of its power from nuclear energy, while Belgium, Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, Slovenia and Ukraine get one-third or more. South Korea and Bulgaria normally get more than 30% of their power from nuclear energy, while in the USA, UK, Spain, Romania and Russia almost one-fifth is from nuclear. Japan is used to relying on nuclear power for more than one-quarter of its electricity and is expected to return to that level. Among countries which do not host nuclear power plants, Italy and Denmark get almost 10% of their power from nuclear.

In electricity demand, the need for low-cost continuous, reliable supply can be distinguished from peak demand occurring over few hours daily and able to command higher prices. Supply needs to match demand instantly and reliably over time. There are number of characteristics of nuclear power which make it particularly valuable apart from its actual generation cost per unit – MWh or kWh. Fuel is a low proportion of power cost, giving power price stability, and is stored onsite (not depending on continuous delivery). The power from nuclear plants is dispatchable on demand, it can be fairly quickly ramped-up, it contributes to clean air and low-CO2 objectives, it gives good voltage support for grid stability. Reactors can be made to load-follow. These attributes are mostly not monetised in merchant markets, but have great value which is increasingly recognised where dependence on intermittent sources has grown.

There is a clear need for new generating capacity around the world, both to replace old units which contribute a lot of CO2 emissions, and to meet increased expectations for electricity in many countries. There are about 127,000 generating units worldwide, 96.5% of these of 300 MWe or less, and one-quarter of the fossil fuel plants are over 30 years old. There is scope for both large new plants and small ones to replace existing units 1:1, all with near-zero CO2 emissions.

World Nuclear Association projections made in 2016 suggest a 26.7% increase to 494 GWe in operation in 2030 and overall 40% increase to 546 GWe in 2035. (Low and high projections are 368 and 631 GWe for 2030, and 365 and 719 GWe for 2035.)

Improved performance from existing nuclear reactors

As nuclear power plant construction returns to the levels reached during the 1970s and 1980s, those plants now operating are producing more electricity. In 2011, production was 2518 billion kWh. The increase over the six years to 2006 (210 TWh) was equal to the output from 30 large new nuclear power plants. Yet between 2000 and 2006 there was no net increase in reactor numbers (and only 15 GWe in capacity). The rest of the improvement was due to better performance from existing units.

In a longer perspective, from 1990 to 2010, world capacity rose by 57 GWe (17.75%, due both to net addition of new plants and uprating some established ones) and electricity production rose 755 billion kWh (40%). The relative contributions to this increase were: new construction 36%, uprating 7% and availability increase 57%. In 2011 and 2012 both capacity and output diminished due to cutbacks in Germany and Japan following the Fukushima accident.

Considering 400 power reactors over 150 MWe for which data are available: over 1980 to 2000 world median capacity factor increased from 68% to 86%, and since then it has maintained around 85%. Actual load factors are slightly lower: 80% average in 2012 (excluding Japan), due to reactors being operated below their full capacity for various reasons. One-quarter of the world's reactors have load factors of more than 90%, and nearly two-thirds do better than 75%, compared with only about a quarter of them over 75% in 1990. The USA now dominates the top 25 positions, followed by South Korea, but six other countries are also represented there. Four of the top ten reactors for lifetime load factors are South Korean.

US nuclear power plant performance has shown a steady improvement over the past 20 years, and the average load factor in 2012 was 81%, up from 66% in 1990 and 56% in 1980. US average capacity factors have been over 90% in most years since 2000



- 92.7% in 2015. This places the USA as the performance leader with nearly half of the top 50 reactors, the 50th achieving 94% in 2015-16 (albeit without China and South Korea in those figures). The USA accounts for nearly one-third of the world's nuclear electricity.

In 2015-16, twelve countries with four or more units averaged better than 80% load factor, to which China and South Korea should probably be added, and  French reactors averaged 83%, despite many being run in load-following mode, rather than purely for base-load power.

Some of these figures suggest near-maximum utilisation, given that most reactors have to shut down every 18-24 months for fuel change and routine maintenance. In the USA this used to take over 100 days on average but in the last decade it has averaged about 40 days. Another performance measure is unplanned capability loss, which in the USA has for the last few years been below 2%.

World Electricity Production 2012 pie graph

World overview

All parts of the world are involved in nuclear power development, and a few examples follow.


The Chinese government plans to increase nuclear generating capacity to 58 GWe with 30 GWe more under construction by 2021. China has completed construction and commenced operation of over 30 new nuclear power reactors since 2002, and some 20 new reactors are under construction. These include the world's first four Westinghouse AP1000 units and a demonstration high-temperature gas-cooled reactor plant. Many more are planned, with construction due to start within about three years. China is commencing export marketing of a largely indigenous reactor design. R&D on nuclear reactor technology in China is second to none.


India’s target is to have 14.5 GWe nuclear capacity on line by 2020 as part of its national energy policy. These reactors include light- and heavy water reactors as well as fast reactors. In addition to the 22 online, of both indigenous and foreign design, five power reactors are under construction, including a 500 MWe prototype fast breeder reactor. This will take India's ambitious thorium programme to stage 2, and set the scene for eventual utilization of the country's abundant thorium to fuel reactors.


Russia plans to increase its nuclear capacity to 30.5 GWe by 2020, using its world-class light water reactors. A large fast breeder unit, the country's second, is producing power and development proceeds on others. An initial floating power plant is under construction, with delivery due in 2018. Russia leads the world in nuclear reactor exports, building and financing new nuclear power plants in several countries.


Finland and France are both expanding their fleets of nuclear power plants with the 1650 MWe EPR from Areva, two of which are also being built in China. Several countries in Eastern Europe are currently constructing or have firm plans to build new nuclear power plants (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Turkey).

A UK government energy paper in mid-2006 endorsed the replacement of the country’s ageing fleet of nuclear reactors with new nuclear build, and four 1600 MWe French units are planned for operation by 2023. The government aims to have 16 GWe of new nuclear capacity operating by 2030.

Sweden is closing down some older reactors, and has invested heavily in life extensions and uprates. Hungary, Slovakia and Spain are all implementing or planning for life extensions on existing plants. Germany agreed to extend the operating lives of its nuclear plants, reversing an earlier intention to shut them down, but has again reversed policy following the Fukushima accident and is phasing out nuclear generation by about 2023.

Poland is developing a nuclear program, with 6000 MWe planned. Estonia and Latvia are involved in a joint project with established nuclear power producer Lithuania. Belarus has started construction of its first two Russian reactors.

United States

In the USA, there are four reactors under construction, all new AP1000 designs. One of the reasons for the hiatus in new build in the USA to date has been the extremely successful evolution in maintenance strategies. Over the last 15 years, changes have increased utilization of US nuclear power plants, with the increased output corresponding to 19 new 1000 MW plants being built.

South America

Argentina and Brazil both have commercial nuclear reactors generating electricity, and additional reactors are under construction. Chile has a research reactor in operation and has the infrastructure and intention to build commercial reactors.

South Korea

South Korea has three new reactors under construction domestically as well as four in the UAE. It plans for eight more. It is also involved in intense research on future reactor designs.

SE Asia

Vietnam intends to have it first nuclear power plant operating about 2028 with Russian help and a second soon after with Japanese input. Indonesia and Thailand are planning nuclear power programs.

South Asia

Bangladesh has contracted with Russia to build its first nuclear power plant. Pakistan with Chinese help is building three small reactors inland and two large ones near Karachi.

Central Asia

Kazakhstan with its abundance of uranium is working closely with Russia in planning development of small new reactors for its own use and export.

Middle East

The United Arab Emirates is building four 1450 MWe South Korean reactors at a cost of over $20 billion and is collaborating closely with IAEA and experienced international firms. Iran’s first power reactor is in operation, and more are planned.

Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt are also moving towards employing nuclear energy for power and desalination.


South Africa is committed to plans for 9600 MWe of further nuclear power capacity.

Nigeria has sought the support of the International Atomic Energy Agency to develop plans for two 1000 MWe reactors.

New countries

In September 2012 the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) expected seven newcomer countries to launch nuclear programs in the near term. It did not name these, but Lithuania, UAE, Turkey, Belarus, Vietnam, Poland, and Bangladesh appear likely candidates. Others had stepped back from commitment, needed more time to set up infrastructure, or did not have credible finance.

See also WNA paper Emerging Nuclear Energy Countries.

Other nuclear reactors

In addition to commercial nuclear power plants, there are about 245 research reactors operating, in 55 countries, with more under construction. These have many uses including research and the production of medical and industrial isotopes, as well as for training.

The use of reactors for marine propulsion is mostly confined to the major navies where it has played an important role for five decades, providing power for submarines and large surface vessels. At least 140 ships, mostly submarines, are propelled by some 180 nuclear reactors and over 13,000 reactor-years of experience has been gained with marine reactors. Russia and the USA have decommissioned many of their nuclear submarines from the Cold War era.

Russia also operates a fleet of six large nuclear-powered icebreakers and a 62,000 tonne cargo ship. It is also completing a floating nuclear power plant with two 40 MWe reactors for use in remote regions.

Nuclear Generation by Country 2013 bar graph


Note: Taipower used nuclear energy to generate 16% of electricity on the island of Taiwan in 2014.