Global Spotlight Report #42: Nuclear Energy

Introduction

This Report provides information on approaches to the use of nuclear energy by leading greenhouse gas countries around the world. Climate Scorecard asked each of our country managers to report on the extent to which their countries relied on nuclear power as an energy source; whether their countries plan on expanding or reducing its use of nuclear power; what policies and safety standards do their countries have in place to guide their use of nuclear power; and what are the lessons that their countries have learned from their experience with nuclear power.

Whether or not to use nuclear power can be viewed as a Hobson’s choice, i.e., a choice of taking what is available or taking nothing at all. Many environmentalists draw a hard nothing at all line on nuclear energy, citing its dangers to human life and the environment, its safety challenges, and its problem in disposing of nuclear waste. However, many countries are increasingly adopting the view that judicious use of nuclear energy offers a means of helping countries become carbon neutral. The development of a new generation of Small Modular Reactors that are smaller, safer, cheaper and easier-to-build, along with the tightening of safety standards and disposal protocols make nuclear energy a more attractive option.

The use of nuclear energy deserves a 2nd look as the challenges of alternative energy sources become more apparent, for example the weather affected variability attached to solar and wind power, the need for costly new large-scale infrastructure to support electric vehicles, and an often unreliable out of date power grid. In light of these challenges and the urgency to reduce emissions, even countries such as Japan and Ukraine that have experienced traumatic nuclear accidents are beginning to make use of nuclear power again as an energy source.

It should be noted that several European countries—perhaps as a reaction to the events in Fukushima and Chernobyl—are moving away from a reliance on nuclear power. Additionally, in some countries, such as Australia, the low cost of renewables outweigh the option of investing in nuclear power.

Detailed Country Reports are provided below.


Country Reports

Nuclear Energy Will Soon Generate 50% of the Energy Needs of the State of Rio de Janeiro

This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Brazil Country Manager Elis Valeria Anginski Cotosky Currently, there are two active nuclear power plants in Brazil both located in the Nuclear Center Almirante Álvaro Alberto (CNAAA) in the state of Rio de Janeiro. The plants are Angra 1, with a generation capacity of 640 MW, and Angra…

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Canada is Investing in Small Modular Reactors (SMRs)

This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Canada Country Manager Diane Szoller Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) reports that nuclear energy generated about 15% of Canada’s electricity in 2018. 13.5 gigawatts of power capacity was provided from 3 plants and 18 commercial reactors in Ontario and 1 plant, 1 reactor in New Brunswick. The EIA explains…

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After Two Decades of Stalled Development, China to Ramp up Nuclear Power Development

This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard China Country Manager Annette Wiedenbach Nuclear power has played a relatively minor role in China’s overall primary energy strategy over the past two decades. While nuclear power has risen from roughly 1% of total primary energy supply in China at the beginning of the 2000s, it hovers around…

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Nuclear Energy Does Not Seem to be the Solution to the EU’s Reduction in Emissions

This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard’s EU Manager Brittany Demogenes As the EU continues to brainstorm ways to meet its increasingly ambitious 2030 and 2050 greenhouse gas emissions goals, one of the principal questions is to what extent nuclear power both can, and should, be used in order to reduce the EU’s total emissions….

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French Government in the Process of Decreasing its Dependence on Nuclear Energy

This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard France Country Manager Astrid Nouvellet France has a long history of relying heavily on nuclear power. The petrol crash of 1973 led the government to build sixteen 900 MWe reactors, followed by another twenty reactors of 1300 MWe from 1976 onwards, to ensure the country’s energy security. The…

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India Expects to Have 10% of its Energy Sourced to Nuclear Power in 10 Years

This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard India Country Manager Pooran Chandra PandeyNuclear power is the fifth-largest source of electricity in India after coal, gas, hydroelectricity and wind power. As of November 2020, India has 23 nuclear reactors in operations in 7 nuclear power plants, spread over the country, with a total installed capacity of 7,480 MW, contributing 1.8% of overall energy supply. The overall supply…

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Nuclear Power Is Not A Primary Focus in Indonesia

This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Indonesia Country Manager Ruby OrimCurrently, none of Indonesia’s power is generated through nuclear energy as the country does not have any nuclear power plants. Nuclear power expansion is not a primary focus in Indonesia as the country’s geography grants access to many other forms of renewable energy. Indonesia’s…

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Germany’s Use of Nuclear Power Is Ending Soon

This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Germany Country Manager Zahi Badra In 2020, 12.6% of Germany’s electricity was produced using nuclear energy from seven nuclear power plants. Despite this, the usage of nuclear power in Germany’s energy sector is expected to end by late 2022. Up until the 2000s, Germany was relying on nuclear…

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The Issue of Safety Remains of Paramount Importance in Japan’s Discussion Over the Role of Nuclear Energy

This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Japan Country Manager Yun-Tzu LinCurrently, Japan relies on nuclear power as an energy source to a minimal extent. In 2020, the share of electricity generated by nuclear power in Japan amounted to around 5.1%. There are ​​five plants with a total of nine reactors currently in operation; however,…

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Mexico Discourages the Possibility Of An Increase In Nuclear Power

This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Mexico Country Manager Pablo David Necoechea Porras Mexico’s sole nuclear power plant is located in Veracruz, an eastern region known as the Oil Basin and Gulf Lowlands. The Laguna Verde nuclear power plant, owned by the state company Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE), began commercial operations in 1990…

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Russia Plans to Have 45-50% of Its Electricity Supply Derive from Nuclear Power by 2050

This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Russia Country Manager Michael OshchepkovSince the Russian state was formed in 1991, nuclear power has been playing an increasingly important role in the country’s economic development efforts. If in 1991 the share of nuclear power usage was about 11.2% in total Russia’s energy balance, in 2019 it amounted…

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Saudi Arabia Sees Nuclear Energy In Its Future

This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Saudi Arabia Country Managers Abeer Abdulkareem and Amgad EllaboudySaudi Arabia’s nuclear energy use Saudi Arabia currently does not rely on nuclear power at all for its energy use. Although it has been planning to implement nuclear energy for a few decades now, it fulfills its energy needs mainly…

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South Africa Makes a Strong Commitment to the Future of Nuclear Energy

This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard South Africa Country Manager Andrew John Hall Presently, South Africa has one nuclear power plant in Koeberg, Western Cape. The plant has two pressurised water reactors that generate 5% (1860 MW (e) capacity) of the country’s electricity and began operating in 1984; the plant is expected to continue…

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South Korea Relies on Nuclear Power for 30% of its Energy

This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard South Korea Country Manager Jitae ChangFigure 1. Energy Sources of South Korea (KPX)South Korea relies on nuclear power for 30% of its energy. Five nuclear power plants and twenty-four nuclear reactors are available and at this moment, seventeen are on line, with the other seven reactors are undergoing…

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Turkey Moves to Construct it’s First Nuclear Power Plants

This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Turkey Country Manager Semih Ergur The installed capacity of electricity generation industry in Turkey—utilizing all kinds of sources—is around 95000 MW. Of this capacity, 27% is Combined Cycle Natural Gas Power Plants (CCNG PP), 21% is coal fired power plants, 32% is hydro, 10% wind, 8% solar, and…

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One Chernobyl is Enough, Though Nuclear Power Produces 52.6% of Electricity in Ukraine

This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Ukraine Country Manager Anastasiia BushovskaNuclear power plants produce 52.6% (data of 2020) of Ukrainian electricity. Currently, there are 15 nuclear reactors and 9 of them have terms expiring in the next 10 years. These reactors were built at the end of the 1970s and 1980s with an expiration…

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Low Cost of Renewables Outweigh Making Investments in Nuclear Energy in Australia

This post was submitted by Australia Country Manager Julian Atchison Nuclear power production is currently not permitted in Australia under two pieces of Commonwealth legislation, as well as a host of state-level laws. The two Commonwealth laws prohibit the “approval, licensing, construction, or operation of a nuclear fuel fabrication plant; a nuclear power plant; an…

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Spain is Seeking to Lessen its Dependence on Nuclear Energy

This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Spain Country Manager Wendy Paredes   In Spain, there are seven nuclear power plants operating—Almaraz I, Almaraz II, Ascó I, Ascó II, Cofrentes, Trillo, and Vandellós II—for which there are 7 light water reactors with an electric power installed of 7,398.77 Megawatts (MW).  Spain also has also a…

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Nuclear Power is an Integral Part of the UK’s Vision for Transitioning to a Net-Zero Carbon Economy by 2050

This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard UK Country Managers Gwenyth Wren and Thomas Christensen   The United Kingdom was preeminent in the development and use of nuclear energy. In 1956 the world’s first commercial nuclear power station was opened at Calder Hall, which was connected to the grid, in the UK. Currently, 21% of…

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Nuclear Power Supplies 20% of the Energy Generated in the U.S.

This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard U.S. Country Manager Nathan Holman   Generation of electricity is the second largest producer of greenhouse gases in the United States. Combating climate change will inevitably require cleaner methods of generating power. Although slightly controversial, nuclear power provides a clear answer as it is the only zero-emission form…

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Nigeria Commits Itself to Building Africa’s Second and Third Nuclear Power Plants

This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard’s Nigeria Country Manager Peter HansenNigeria is a rapidly growing country boasting a large population. Due to this, there is a huge electricity demand that Nigeria is hard pressed to fulfil since they currently struggle to maintain a “meagre 4000 MW of electricity” (Bolodeoku). Additionally, Nigeria deals with pervasive…

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