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Electronic Design

Conventional Nuclear Power

The most recent statistics on conventional nuclear power generation contain some interesting comparative data. For instance, France is the most enthusiastic proponent of nuclear power generation, but the U.S. almost doubles France's output. Germany seems to be abandoning nuclear power, but that assessment may be premature.

France operates 59 nuclear reactors that supply more than 420 terawatt-hours per year, or 78% of the country's total consumption. France is the world's largest exporter of electricity (it's the country's fourth largest export), much of which is purchased by Italy.

In the U.S., there are 103 fully licensed and operational nuclear power reactors. The most recent data shows them producing about 750 terawatt-hours/year, or about 20% of the country's electricity. A Department of Energy report says that even a 3% reduction in U.S. carbon emissions will require not only license renewal for all existing nuclear plants, but also possibly the construction of about 30 large new ones by 2012.

The German political status of nuclear power is complex, and predictions on the future are always hedged. One reason is that over half the country's electricity now comes from coal, and under the Kyoto accord, Germany is committed to a 21% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2010.

Consequently, Germany continues to operate 17 nuclear power reactors (although all Soviet-designed reactors in the old East Germany have been shut down and are being decommissioned).

Germany's nuclear output in 2004 was 167 terawatt-hours, or roughly a third of its consumption.

The table lists other countries (based on 2003 data) that produce a significant amount of power from nuclear plants, either in absolute terms or in terms of their size, population, or GDP.

Country Terawatts (2003)
Japan 314
Russia 141
Korea 113
U.K. 81
Ukraine 78
Canada 76
Sweden 65
Spain 63
Belgium 45
Taiwan 38
Switzerland 26
China 23
Finland 21
Bulgaria 20
India 20
Slovakia 18
Lithuania 14
Mexico 10
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