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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Nuclear energy policy is a national and international policy concerning some or all aspects of nuclear energy, such as mining for nuclear fuel, extraction and processing of nuclear fuel from the ore, generating electricity by nuclear power, enriching and storing spent nuclear fuel and nuclear fuel reprocessing.

Nuclear energy policies often include the regulation of energy use and standards relating to the nuclear fuel cycle. Other measures include efficiency standards, safety regulations, emission standards, fiscal policies, and legislation on energy trading, transport of nuclear waste and contaminated materials, and their storage. Governments might subsidize nuclear energy and arrange international treaties and trade agreements about the import and export of nuclear technology, electricity, nuclear waste, and uranium.

Since nuclear energy and nuclear weapons technologies are closely related, military aspirations can act as a factor in energy policy decisions. The fear of nuclear proliferation influences some international nuclear energy policies.


The global picture

The status of nuclear power globally.      Operating reactors, building new reactors      Operating reactors, planning new build      No reactors, building new reactors      No reactors, planning new build      Operating reactors, stable      Operating reactors, considering phase-out      Civil nuclear power is illegal      No reactors

For many years after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster nuclear power was off the policy agenda in most countries. More recently, intense public relations activities by the nuclear industry, increasing evidence of climate change and failures to address it, have brought nuclear power issues back to the forefront of policy discussion in the nuclear renaissance countries.[1] But some countries are not prepared to expand nuclear power and are still divesting themselves of their nuclear legacy. These are the nuclear phase-out countries.[1]

As of 2007, 31 countries operated nuclear power plants.[2] Nuclear power tends to be found in nations connected to the largest electrical grids, and so the largest nations (or groups of them) such as China, India, the US, Russia and the European nations all utilize it (see graphic to right).[citation needed] The largest producer of nuclear capacity was the USA with 28% of worldwide capacity, followed by France (18%) and Japan (12%).[3] In 2007, there were 439 operating nuclear generating units throughout the world, with a total capacity of about 351 gigawatts.

According to the IAEA, as of September, 2008, nuclear power is projected to remain at a 12.4% to 14.4% share of the world's electricity production through 2030.[4]

Policy options


Nuclear concerns

Policymakers must balance their decisions so that the concerns surrounding nuclear power are addressed.[citation needed]

Energy security

For some countries, nuclear power affords energy independence. In the words of the French, "We have no coal, we have no oil, we have no gas, we have no choice."[5] Therefore, the discussion of a future for nuclear energy is intertwined with a discussion of energy security and the use of energy mix, including renewable energy development.[citation needed]

Nuclear power has been relatively unaffected by embargoes, and uranium is mined in "reliable" countries, including Australia and Canada.[6][7]

Nuclear energy renaissance

In 1980s, a popular movement against nuclear power gained strength in the Western world, based on fears of latent radiation and of a possible nuclear accident.

However, a growing number of policymakers have returned to the 'nuclear option' because it is perceived as potentially able to address dwindling global oil reserves and global warming with less greenhouse gas emissions than fossil fuel.

The parliamentary decision in 2002 in Finland to grant a license for the construction of a fifth nuclear power station was seen as very significant in that it was the first such decision to build a new nuclear power plant in Western Europe for more than a decade.[8] After the Finnish decision several other countries announced their intention to consider construction of new nuclear reactors. Since that time, both the United Kingdom and Italy have announced pro-nuclear policies.[9][10]

Some countries, such as Australia and Ireland, remain opposed to the use of nuclear power.[11][12][13]

Though projections show growth in nuclear power, longstanding challenges lead to significant uncertainty in that projected growth.[14][15] Among those challenges are continuing opposition to nuclear power, uncertainty about the management of spent fuel, and high capital costs compared with other energy sources.[16](see Economics of new nuclear power plants). New reactors under construction in Finland and France, which were meant to lead a nuclear renaissance, have been delayed and are running over-budget.[17]

Policies by territory

A nuclear power plant at Grafenrheinfeld, Germany. All German nuclear plants were scheduled to be shut down by 2020, but the decision was reversed in early 2010.[18]

Argentina, Armenia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Egypt, Finland, France, Hungary, Italy, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Japan, Lithuania, Mexico, North Korea, Romania, Russia, Pakistan, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Ukraine, United States, United Kingdom, and Vietnam are currently building new nuclear reactors or considering building new ones. Germany, Netherlands, and Spain have nuclear reactors but no plans for either expansion or accelerated closure of existing ones.[19][20][21] Belgium is the only country in the world with an active nuclear phase-out law. Austria, Denmark, Greece, Ireland and Norway have no nuclear plants and have legally restricted the possibility of building a nuclear power plant on their territory to varying extents.

On 31 July 2007, Pope Benedict XVI in his message marking the 50th anniversary of the founding of the International Atomic Energy Agency backed the increased peaceful use of nuclear energy to promote development for the world's poor. "The Holy See, fully approving of the IAEA's goal, has been a member from the organization's foundation and continues to support its activity," Pope Benedict XVI said.[22]



Since 1995 Algeria operates research reactors at Draria and Ain Ouessara. It signed nuclear cooperation agreements with Russia in January 2007, with the United States in June 2007, and with China in March 2008.[23][24] Algeria has discussed nuclear cooperation also with France.


In 1964, a 150 MWe and in 1974 a 600 MWe nuclear power stations were proposed. The Nuclear Power Plants Authority (NPPA) was established in 1976, and in 1983 the El Dabaa site on the Mediterranean coast was selected.[23] Egypt's nuclear plans were frozen after the Chernobyl accident. In 2006, Egypt announced it will revive its civilian nuclear power programme, and within next 10 years to build a 1,000 megawatt nuclear power station at El Dabaa. It estimated to cost US$1.5bn, and it will be constructed in participation of foreign investors.[25] In March 2008, Egypt signed with Russia an agreement on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.[24]


In April 2007, the Government of Ghana announced that it planned to introduce nuclear power to avoid energy crisis. It operates a small Chinese research reactor since 1994.[23]


In 2006. Libya and France signed an agreement on peaceful uses of atomic energy, and in July 2007, they signed a memorandum of understanding related to building a mid-sized nuclear plant with Areva reactor for seawater desalination. This deal was opposed by Germany.[26]


Morocco constructs a 2 MW Triga research reactor. The government has plans to build a nuclear power plant in 2016-2017 at Sidi Boulbra in cooperation with Russia's Atomstroyexport, and desalination plant at Tan-Tan on the Atlantic coast in cooperation with China.[23]


Since 2004 Nigeria has a Chinese-origin research reactor at Ahmadu Bello University, and has sought the support of the International Atomic Energy Agency to develop plans for up to 4000 MWe of nuclear capacity by 2027 according to the National Program for the Deployment of Nuclear Power for Generation of Electricity.[23] Nigeria hopes to begin construction in 2011 and start nuclear power production in 2017. On 27 July 2007 Nigeria's President Umaru Yar'Adua has urged the country to embrace nuclear power in order to meet its growing energy needs.[27]

South Africa

South Africa is the only country in Africa with nuclear power plants and it currently has an expansion policy based upon the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR).[28] Power company Eskom plans to build 20 GW of nuclear power by 2025. The first plant with capacity of between 3300 and 4000 MW could be completed by 2017.[29] Several groups, including Earthlife Africa and Koeberg Alert, oppose these measures.[citation needed]


Tunisia evaluates the possibility to build a 600 MWe nuclear plant. In December 2006 a cooperation agreement on peaceful use of nuclear energy was signed with France, focused on nuclear power and desalination.[23]



Armenia operates one Soviet-designed VVER-440 nuclear unit at Metsamor, which supplies over 40% of the country's energy needs. The EU and Turkey have expressed concern about the continuing operation of the plant. The Armenian energy minister has announced that a US$2 billion feasibility study of a new 1000 MWe nuclear power plant to be carried out in cooperation with Russia, the USA and the IAEA. Russia has agreed to build the plant in return for minority ownership of it. Also the USA has signalled its commitment to help Armenia with preliminary studies.[30]


Bangladesh considered building a nuclear power plant for the first time in 1961. Since then, several feasibility studies have been carried out, affirming the feasibility of the project. In 1963 the Rooppur site was selected. More recently, in 2001 Bangladesh adopted a national Nuclear Power Action Plan.[23] On 24 June 2007, Bangladesh's government announced it will build a nuclear power plant to meet electricity shortages.[31] The first nuclear power plant with a generation capacity between 700 MW and 1000 MW will be installed by 2015 at Rooppur in Pabna district.[32]


China has 11 reactors operating, 20 reactors under construction, and is planning or proposing over 100 additional ones. 60 GWe of capacity is planned to go online by 2020, with an increase to 120-160 GWe by 2030.[20][33]

Gulf states

Six member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Oman) have announced that the Council is commissioning a study on the peaceful use of nuclear energy. In February 2007 they agreed with the IAEA to cooperate on a feasibility study for a regional nuclear power and desalination program, which according to Saudi Arabia may emerge about 2009.[23] The United Arab Emirates confirmed on 14 January 2008 that the French company Total in cooperation with Suez and Areva would deploy two Generation III reactors in the country.[34] On 29 March 2008, Bahrain signed a memorandum of understanding on nuclear energy with the United States.[35]


India has 17 reactors operating, 6 reactors under construction, and is planning an additional 4, with 15 more proposed.[20][36]


In the mid 1990s, Indonesia conducted a feasibility study into constructing 12 nuclear power plants. The plan was postponed due to criticism from environmentalists and the Asian regional economic crisis in 1997.[37][38] In 2006, Indonesian Government announced a plan to build its first major nuclear power plant on Muria peninsula, Jepara district, Central Java by 2015. However, this decision is not final yet.[39][40] This plan is heavily criticized by environmental organisations.[41]

In June 2007 was announced that in Gorontalo will be set up 70 MW floating nuclear power plant of Russian origin.[42]


In the mid 1970s, Iran started construction of two PWR units at [Bushehr], but the project was suspended in 1979. In 1994, Russia agreed to complete unit 1 of Bushehr nuclear power plant and it is expected to be completed late in 2007. Also second reactor is planned at Bushehr. It also announced that a new nuclear power plant is to be built at Darkhovin in Khūzestān Province, where two plants were about to be constructed in 1970s.[23]


Israel has no nuclear power plants. However, in January 2007, Israeli Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer said his country should consider producing nuclear power for civilian purposes.[43]


Japan has 55 reactors of total capacity 47,577 MWe (49,580 MWe gross) on line, with 2 reactors (2,285 MWe) under construction and 12 reactors (16,045 MWe) planned. Nuclear energy accounts for about 30% of Japan's total electricity production, from 47.5 GWe of capacity (net). There are plans to increase this to 37% in 2009 and 41% in 2014.[44]

On 16 July 2007 a severe earthquake hit the region where Tokyo Electric's Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant is located. The plant with seven units is the largest single nuclear power station in the world. All of the reactors were shut down and are expected to remain closed for damage verification and repairs for at least one year.[45]


According to the country's energy minister, Jordan intends to build its first nuclear power plant by 2015. It will be used for electricity generation and desalination.[46] The possible purchase of Candu heavy-water reactors has been discussed with Canada.[47] The government also discussed with French Company AREVA possible construction of a 1100 MW reactor and signed an agreement with AREVA on uranium exploration in Jordan. Jordan has signed Memoranda of understanding with the United States, United Kingdom, France, China, and South Korea.[citation needed]

A Jordanian national committee is currently studying and evaluating four international bids to build Jordan's nuclear research reactor, in order to announce a preferred bidder by the end of this year. According to JAEC Research Reactor Project Manager Ned Xoubi, constructing the 5MW plant at the Jordan University of Science and Technology is an important step in the Kingdom's peaceful nuclear energy programme. "It is almost impossible to think of a nation that has developed nuclear energy without first building a research reactor. Since we have taken the strategic decision to develop a nuclear power programme and move Jordan into the nuclear age, building a research reactor is another milestone that we have to reach on the road to nuclear energy," Xoubi told The Jordan Times. According to Xoubi, the research reactor will become a focal point for a Nuclear Technology Centre, which will train upcoming generations of nuclear engineers and scientists in the Kingdom in addition to provide irradiation services for the industrial, agricultural and medical sectors.[48]


Kazakhstan shut down its only NPP in 1999. In 2003, the Minister of Energy and Mines announced plans for the construction of a new NPP within the next 15 years. The two–three unit NPP is to be established on the shores of Lake Balkhash in the Karaganda region of central Kazakhstan.[3]

North Korea

North Korea has no nuclear power program. Under the Agreed Framework, North Korea agreed to end its graphite-moderated nuclear reactor program in exchange for construction of two PWRs at Kumho, but construction was suspended in November 2003. Under the Six-Party Talks, 19 September 2005 North Korea pledged to end all its nuclear programs and return to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, in exchange for international inspections in return for benefits including energy aid and normalization of relations with Japan and the United States.

South Korea

South Korea has 18 operational nuclear power reactors, with two more under construction and scheduled to go online by 2004.[citation needed]


Although Malaysia has established Nuclear Agency and been actively involved in the periodic review of the nuclear option, currently there is no nuclear power generation plant neither is there a plan to embark on a nuclear power programme in the foreseeable future.[49]


On 15 May 2007, Myanmar and Russia signed an agreement to construct a nuclear research center in Myanmar. The center will comprise a 10 MWt light water reactor working on 20%-enriched U-235, an activation analysis laboratory, a medical isotope production laboratory, silicon doping system, nuclear waste treatment and burial facilities.[50] Groups such as Greenpeace are concerned that such technology may pose possible security threats.[51]


Pakistan operates two reactors, is building a third, and is considering two more. The current total nuclear generating capacity is 425 MWe.[52]

The Philippines

In the Philippines, in 2004, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo outlined her energy policy. It included plans to convert the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant into a gas powered facility.[citation needed]


Syria abandoned its plans to build a VVER-440 reactor after the Chernobyl accident.[23] The plans of nuclear program were revived at the beginning of 2000s when Syria negotiated with Russia to build a nuclear facility that would include a nuclear power plant and a seawater atomic desalination plant.[53]


Taiwan has six operational reactors, but support for nuclear energy is strongly split between the KMT and the Democratic Progressive Party. Nuclear power is an alternative for clean energy after 2008's energy council.


According to the energy minister of Thailand, the state owned Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand will build its first two nuclear power plants by 2021. This decision was criticized by Greenpeace, which suggested to focus on alternative power supplies from hydropower and smaller biofuel plants before risking nuclear.[54][55]


In the 1980s Vietnam undertook two preliminary nuclear power studies, which stated need to introduce nuclear energy for satisfying the growth in the electricity demand. A national energy plan includes the nuclear power capacity to be commenced by 2010. In February 2006, the government announced the first nuclear power plant would be commissioned by 2017.[23]


Yemen has called for establishing The Arab Atomic Energy Agency for nuclear researches and using them for peaceful means, especially generating electricity.[56]



Australia has no nuclear power plants. However, Australia has up to 40% of the world's uranium deposits and is the world's second largest producer of uranium after Canada.[3] At the same time Australia's extensive, low-cost coal and natural gas reserves have historically been used as strong arguments for avoiding nuclear power.

In 2005, the Australian government threatened to use its constitutional powers to take control of the approval process for new mines from the anti-nuclear Northern Territory government. They are also negotiating with China to weaken safeguard terms so as to allow uranium exports there.[citation needed] States controlled by the Australian Labor Party are blocking the development of new mines in their jurisdictions under the ALP's "No New Mines policy."

John Howard went to the November 2007 federal election with a pro-nuclear power platform but his government was defeated by Labor, which opposes nuclear power for Australia.[57][58]

New Zealand

New Zealand enacted the New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament, and Arms Control Act 1987 which prohibits the stationing of nuclear weapons on the territory of New Zealand and the entry into New Zealand waters of nuclear armed or propelled ships. This Act of Parliament, however, does not prevent the construction of nuclear power plants. A 2008 survey shows that relatively few New Zealanders favour nuclear power as the best energy source.[59]



Albania presently has no nuclear power plants, but in 2007 the government discussed constructing a nuclear power plant at Durrës. In addition to meeting the domestic energy demands, the plan foresaw electricity export to neighboring Balkan countries and Italy via an underwater cable, which would link the Italian and Albanian electricity networks.[23][60] In April 2009, Albania and Croatia announced a plan to jointly construct a 1,500 MWe nuclear power plant on the shores of Lake Scutari (Lake Shkodër), near Albania's border with Montenegro.[61]


In the 1960s the Austrian government started a nuclear energy program and parliament unanimously ordered a nuclear power plant built. In 1972, the German company KWU began construction of the Zwentendorf boiling water 700 MWe reactor. In 1976, two years prior to the nuclear power plant opening, the government began a program to educate its citizens on the benefits and safety of nuclear power. However, this campaign began a public discussion that led to large demonstrations against the Zwentendorf plant in 1977.[62] On 15 December 1978, the Austrian Parliament voted in favor of a ban (BGBI. No. 676) on using nuclear fission for Austria’s energy supply until March 1998. This law also prohibits the storage and transport of nuclear materials in or through Austria.[63] On 9 July 1997, the Austrian Parliament unanimously passed legislation to remain an anti-nuclear country.[64]


Belarus presently has no nuclear power plants. However, in mid 2006, the Government of Belarus approved a plan for the construction of an initial 2000 MWe PWR nuclear power plant in the Mahilyow Voblast. In February 2007 it was announced that construction would start in 2008, for commissioning in 2014-2015 (later: 2015-2020).[23] The Belarusian Security Council made the final decision for construction on 15 January 2008.[65] The Nuclear Power Act, covering design and construction of nuclear facilities, security, safety, physical protection of facilities and regulation, and also prohibiting the production of nuclear weapons and other nuclear explosive devices, was adopted by the House of Representatives of the National Assembly of Belarus on 25 June 2008.[66]


In 2003 Belgium's Government, then a coalition which included the Green party Groen!, passed legislation which stipulated that no new reactors would be built and that Belgium's seven reactors would close between 2015-2025.[67][68] When the law was being passed, there was speculation it would be overturned again as soon as an administration without Groen! was in power.[citation needed] A report published in 2005 by the National Planning Bureau noted that in many parts of Belgium nuclear power makes up more than 50% of the electricity generated. It would therefore be difficult for Belgium to adhere to the emissions targets of the Kyoto Protocols without nuclear power.[69]


Bulgaria operated 6 reactors, but four of them were deactivated in 2002 as a condition of joining the European Union. On 18 January 2008 Atomstroyexport and Bulgaria's National Electric Company (NEC) signed the contract for the design, construction and installation of two new units at the Belene Nuclear Power Plant, which will be AES-92 VVER-1000 reactors, designed by Atomstroyexport and using control and automation systems from Carsib, a joint consortium of Areva and Siemens.[70]

The total cost of the Belene project is now estimated to be around €7 billion (€4 billion for the power stations plus associated infrastructure development costs).[71] Critics say the project is economically flawed, open to corruption and mismanagement, and will cement Russian dominance of Bulgaria's energy sector. The government says global energy pressures make the project necessary.[72]

Czech Republic

The Czech Energy Policy of 2004 envisages building two or more large reactors to replace Dukovany power plant after 2020. The plans announced in 2006 envisage construction of one 1500 MWe unit at Temelín after 2020, and a second to follow.[73]


Denmark does not produce nuclear energy, which is in accordance with a 1985 law passed by the Danish parliament that prohibits the production of nuclear energy in Denmark.[74] Instead, the country has focused on renewable energy sources such as wind energy. According to the World Nuclear Association, Denmark imported electricity produced by nuclear energy from nearby countries; In 2006, of the 7.64 billion kWh (23%) imported from Sweden, nearly half of the energy was nuclear. Furthermore, a portion of the electricity imported from Germany (0.6 billion kWh) was generated by nuclear power, according to the WNA's website.[75]. However, according to the Danish Energy Agency (ENS), in 2006 and 2007 the country was self sufficient in energy production, and has had a negative electricity import [76].

Three nuclear research reactors at Risø National Laboratory are in the process of being decommissioned.[74]


Finland's program has four nuclear reactors, which provides 27% of the country's electricity. Two VVER-440 pressurized water reactors built by Soviet Atomenergoeksport and commissioned in 1977 and 1980, locate in Loviisa Nuclear Power Plant. They are operated by Fortum Oyj. Two boiling water reactors built by Swedish Asea-Atom (nowadays Westinghouse Electric Company) and commissioned n 1978 and 1980, locate in Olkiluoto plant in Eurajoki, near Rauma. They are owned and operated by Teollisuuden Voima, a subsidiary of Pohjolan Voima Oy. In 2002, the cabinet's decision to allow the construction of fifth reactor (third in Olkiluoto) was accepted in the parliament. Economic, energy security and environmental grounds were given as reasons for the decision.[citation needed] The reactor will be the new European Pressurized Reactor, built by French company Areva, which is scheduled to go on line in 2011. Construction of Olkiluoto 3 started in August 2005. Two and a half years later the project is "over two years behind schedule and at least 50% over budget, the loss for the provider being estimated at €1.5 billion".[77]

Energy companies have proposed also construction of sixth and seventh reactors, although no decision made yet.[8][78][79] Public opinion is against a sixth reactor, according to a 2008 poll. Fifty-three per cent of survey respondents opposed building the country’s sixth nuclear reactor, while 34 per cent supported it.[80]


After the oil crisis of the early 1970s, the French government decided in 1974 to move towards self-sufficiency in electricity production, primarily through the construction of nuclear power stations. France today produces around 78.1% of its electricity through nuclear power.[81] Because France produces an overall electricity surplus, it exports nuclear-produced energy. Some of this goes to countries which are ostensibly against the use of nuclear energy, such as Germany.[citation needed] The Board of Electricité de France (EDF) has approved construction of a 1630 MWe EPR at Flamanville, Normandy. Construction is expected to begin in late 2007, with completion in 2012.[81]


In 2000, the German government, consisting of a coalition including the Green party officially announced its intention to phase out nuclear power in Germany. Jürgen Trittin, the Minister of Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, reached an agreement with energy companies on the gradual shut down of the country's nineteen nuclear power plants and a cessation of civil usage of nuclear power by 2020. Legislation was enacted in the Nuclear Exit Law. The power plants in Stade and Obrigheim were turned off on 14 November 2003, and 11 May 2005, respectively. Dismantling of the plants is scheduled to begin in 2007.[82] But the Nuclear Exit Law did not ban enrichment stations - one in Gronau has received permission to extend operations. There have been concerns over the safety of the phase-out, particularly in terms of the transport of nuclear waste.[83] In 2005 Angela Merkel won the German federal election with the CDU party. She has subsequently announced to re-negotiate with energy companies the time limit for a shut down of nuclear power stations. But as part of her pact with the SPD, with whom the CDU form a coalition, the phase-out policy has for now been retained.[84]


Although Greece has established Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC), a decision has been made not to implement a nuclear power program to generate nuclear electricity. There is one operational nuclear research reactor and one sub-critical assembly.[85] The country believes due to its small size and earthquakes in the region, nuclear power would not provide many benefits.[86] Greece did receive electricity produced by nuclear power from Bulgaria in the past. However, with the shutdown of two Bulgarian reactors in 2006, these imports are almost non-existent.[87]



Ireland presently has no nuclear power plants. However, a nuclear power plant was proposed in 1968. It was to be built during the 1970s at Carnsore Point in County Wexford. The plan envisioned four plants to be built at the site, but was dropped in 1981 after strong opposition from environmental groups and because of flattening energy demand, and Ireland has remained without nuclear power.[citation needed] Despite opposing nuclear power and nuclear fuel reprocessing at Sellafield, Ireland is due to open an interconnector to the mainland UK to buy electricity, which is, in some part, the product of nuclear power.

In April 2006, a government-commissioned report by Forfas pointed to the need to reconsider nuclear power in order "to secure its long-run energy security". Relatively small-scale nuclear plants were envisaged. In 2007, Ireland's Electricity Supply Board made it known that it would consider a joint venture with a major EU energy company to build nuclear capacity.[23]


Italy held a referendum the year after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, deciding to shut down Italy's four nuclear power plants. The last was closed in 1990.[88] A moratorium on the construction of new plants, originally in effect from 1987 until 1993, has since been extended indefinitely.[89]

Premier Minister Silvio Berlusconi reopened the nuclear power debate in 2005, noting Italy imports around 85% of its total energy.[90] In 13 November 2007, during his speech at the World Energy Council in Rome, Italy's nuclear stance was criticized by CEO of Eni, Paolo Scaroni.[91] On 22 May 2008, Italy's industry minister announced that the government scheduled the start of construction of the first Italian new nuclear-powered plant by 2013.[92]


In 2006, Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian power companies carried out the feasibility study for construction of the new nuclear power plant in Lithuania to replace existing Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant, scheduled to be shut down in 2009. The study shows that the nuclear power plant project is feasible.[93]

The Netherlands

In 1994, the Netherland's parliament voted to phase out nuclear power after a discussion of nuclear waste management. In 1997 the power station at Dodewaard was shut down and the government decided it was planning to end Borssele's operating license in 2003. But in 2003, with a new government in power, the shut down was postponed to 2013.[citation needed] In 2006 the government decided that Borssele will remain open until 2033, if it can comply with the highest safety standards. The owners, Essent and Delta will invest 500 million euro in sustainable energy, together with the government - money which the government claims otherwise should have been paid to the plants owners as compensation.[citation needed]


No nuclear power plant has ever been established in Norway, however it has legal framework for licensing the construction and operation of nuclear installations.[94] Currently there are discussions about usage of nuclear energy, which is supported by the most of industry leaders.[95] Statkraft together with Vattenfall, Fortum and energy investment company Scatec would like to build a thorium-fueled power plant.[96]


In the 1980s, Poland had four Russian reactors under construction, but the project was canceled in 1990.[23] A new nuclear power plant was approved in the 2005-2025 energy strategy document, and it is expected to be in operation by 2021 or 2022.[97] The Polish company PSE participates in the nuclear project of Lithuania.[23]


In 1971, Portugal planned to build a 8,000-MW nuclear power plant completed by 2000. Plans were delayed until it was finally decided in 1995 not to build any NPP in Portugal.[98] In 2004, the Government of Portugal rejected a proposal to reconsider its decision.[23] In 2005, a consortium of energy companies called Energia Nuclear de Portugal (Enupor) announced considering the construction of Portugal’s first nuclear power plant.[99]


Russia operates 31 reactors, is building 3, and has plans for another 27.[100] Russia has also begun building floating nuclear power plants. The £100 million ($204.9 million, 2 billion руб) vessel, the Lomonosov, to be completed in 2010, is the first of seven plants that Moscow says will bring vital energy resources to remote Russian regions. While producing only a small fraction of the power of a standard Russian land-based plant, it can supply power to a city of 200,000, or function as a desalination plant. The Rosatom, the state-owned nuclear energy company said that at least 12 countries were also interested in buying floating nuclear plants.[101]


Italian power company Enel, a majority shareholder of the Slovak power company, plans investment of €1.6 billion for completion of the Mochovce Nuclear Power Plant units 3 and 4 by 2011-2012. In January 2006 the Slovak Government approved a new energy strategy incorporating these plans, with capacity uprates at Mochovce NPP units 1 and 2, and at Bohunice Nuclear Power Plant units 3 and 4.[102]


The Slovenian nuclear plant in Krško is scheduled to be closed by 2023, and there are no plans to build further nuclear plants. But the debate on whether and when to close the Krško plant intensified after the 2005/06 winter energy crisis. In May 2006 a Slovenian newspaper claimed the government had held internal discussions on adding a new 1000MW block into Krško after 2020.[103]

Currently, nuclear waste is disposed of immediately in storage facilities. Slovenia has left the possibility of reprocessing spent fuel open.[103]


In Spain a moratorium was enacted by the socialist government in 1983.[104][105] The government has announced the country will phase out nuclear power in favour of renewables.[106] The Prime Minister of Spain confirmed that nuclear energy will be phased out.[107] The first unit (at José Cabrera nuclear power plant) was shut down at the end of 2006, 40 years after its construction.[108]


Following the Three Mile Island accident in the United States in 1979, the Swedish Government decided, after a referendum, that no further nuclear power plants should be built and that a nuclear power phase-out should be completed by 2010. But in 1998, when electricity from hydropower accounted for 48% of the country's production of electricity, the government decided to build no further hydropower plants in order to protect its national water resources. This is likely to set back the planned phase-out of Sweden's nuclear reactors, perhaps until 2045.[citation needed] Indeed the current Swedish government is proposing to end the nuclear phase-out, while still maintaining a moratorium on new construction at least until 2010.[citation needed]


Switzerland has five nuclear reactors, and around 40% of its electricity is generated by nuclear power. The country has had several referenda on the nuclear energy, beginning in 1979 with a citizens' initiative for nuclear safety, which was rejected. In 1984, there was a vote on an initiative "for a future without further nuclear power stations" with the result being a 55% to 45% vote against. On 23 September 1990, the people passed a motion to halt the construction of nuclear power plants (for a moratorium period of ten years) but rejected a motion to initiate a phase-out.[109] On 18 May 2003 a motion calling for an extension to this moratorium (for another ten years) and another asking again on the question of a phase-out, were both rejected.[110] The building of new plants is under consideration.[111]


Turkey presently has no nuclear power plants. However, in August 2006, the Turkish Government announced its plan to have three nuclear power plants with total capacity of 4500 MWe, operating by 2012-2015. In May 2007, a new bill concerning construction and operation of nuclear power plants and the sale of their electricity was passed by parliament. It also addresses waste management and decommissioning, providing for a National Radioactive Waste Account and a Decommissioning Account, which generators will pay into progressively.[23] The first units would be built at Akkuyu, at the place which was rejected in 2000, and the second unit will be built in Sinop.[112] Environmentalists, concerned over earthquakes and the ability of the authorities to protect the public, have opposed these proposals.[113][114]

The United Kingdom

The future of nuclear power in the United Kingdom is currently under review. The country has a number of reactors which are currently reaching the end of their working life, and it is currently undecided how they will be replaced. The UK is also failing to reach its targets for reduction on CO2 emissions, a situation which may be worsened if new nuclear power stations are not built.[115] The UK also uses a large proportion of gas fired power stations, which produce relatively low (compared to coal) CO2 emissions, but there have been recent difficulties in obtaining adequate gas supplies. The UK government has also recently appointed a new pro-nuclear energy minister.[citation needed]

In January 2008, the United Kingdom confirmed a new generation of nuclear power plants to be built in order to meet the country's growing energy crisis. The government hopes that the first station will be operational before 2020.[116] By contrast, the devolved government in Scotland has made its opposition clear, believing "that a UK policy in favour of nuclear power is disastrously short-sighted." In England, the UK Government may take action to facilitate the planning and consent process for new nuclear power stations. In Scotland the government do not intend to take any similar action and are likely to actively oppose any planning applications.[117]

North America


Canada operates 18 reactors accounting for about 15% of electrical generation, mostly in the province of Ontario. Increasing demands for electricity and Kyoto Agreement obligations have led Ontario to announce that it will maintain existing nuclear capacity by replacing older reactors with new ones.[118]


Mexico has one nuclear power plant, which consists of two boiling water reactors.[119] In February 2007, contracts with Iberdrola and Alstom were signed to update the reactors by 2010. A committee has been established to recommend on new nuclear plants and the most recent proposal is for one unit to come on line by 2015 with seven more to follow it by 2025.[120]

United States

In 2007, there were 104 (69 pressurized water reactors, 35 boiling water reactors) commercial nuclear generating units licensed to operate in the United States, producing approximately 20% of the country's electrical energy needs. In absolute terms, the United States is the world's largest supplier of commercial nuclear power. However, the development of nuclear power in the United States has been stymied ever since the Three Mile Island nuclear accident in 1979. Future development of nuclear power in the U.S. was enabled by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and is co-ordinated by the Nuclear Power 2010 Program[121] On 22 September 2005 it was announced that two sites in the U.S. had been selected to receive new power reactors (exclusive of the new power reactor scheduled for Idaho National Laboratory).[citation needed] On 25 September 2007 South Texas Project filed the application for a Combined Construction and Operating License (COL). Two new GE-Hitachi ABWRs will be built adjacent to the existing PWRs.[122] This was the first application for a new nuclear plant in the US for nearly 30 years.[citation needed] This was followed in October, 2007 by TVA and NuStart filing for a COL for two Westinghouse AP1000s to be built at Bellefonte in Hollywood, Alabama.[123] The U.S. NRC expects to receive a total of 30 applications for new nuclear power reactors by 2010 using the new streamlined COL application process. If these reactors are approved and built, this would result in a significant expansion of nuclear power in the United States. Most of the new reactors are expected to be constructed next to existing plants. However, there is a history of anti-nuclear activism in the USA and many groups oppose the building of new nuclear power stations.[124][125][126]

In August 2007, TVA was approved to restart construction of Watts Bar unit 2. The reactor is scheduled to be completed and come online in 2013. As of February 2008, five applications for Combined Licenses (COL) have been submitted [1]. Note however that submission of these applications are not necessarily declarations of intent to build new power plants, but submission of a COL application is one of the final steps a utility must take before construction can begin on a new nuclear reactors. In April 2008, Southern Company signed a contract for two AP1000 reactors to be built at its Vogtle facility. This is the first order for a new nuclear plant in the United States in 30 years.[127] Shortly thereafter, SCG&E also ordered two new AP1000 reactors to be constructed at its VC Summer facility at a total cost of almost US$10 billion for the two reactors.[128]

South America


In Argentina, about 6% of the electricity comes from 2 operational reactors: The Embalse Río Tercero plant, a CANDU6 reactor, and the Atucha 1 plant, a PHWR German design. In 2001, the plant was modified to burn Slightly Enriched Uranium, making it the first PHWR reactor to burn that fuel worldwide.[citation needed] Atucha originally was planned to be a complex with various reactors. Atucha 2 (similar to Atucha 1 but more powerful) is actually more than half-built, however it never entered into operation. Argentina also has some other research reactors, and exports nuclear technology. Nucleoelectrica of Argentina and Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd are negotiating over the contracts and project delivery model for a new 740 MWe Candu 6 nuclear power plant. It will be reviewed and approved by the Government of Argentina by the end of April 2008.[129]


Nuclear energy accounts for about 4% of the Brazil's electricity.[130] It produced by two reactors at Angra, which is Brazil's sole nuclear power plant, which consists of two Pressurized water reactors. A third reactor, Angra III, with a projected output of 1,350 MW, is planned to be finished by 2010, but work has been paralyzed due to environmental concerns and lack of funds. By 2025 Brazil plans to build seven more reactors.[131] Currently, all uranium exploration, production and export in Brazil is under the control of the state through INB, which is a subsidiary of the National Nuclear Energy Commission, although the Brazilian government has recently announced that it is prepared to move ahead with private sector involvement in the nuclear fuel cycle[132].


Although there is no commitment from the government to introduce nuclear energy, the debate is ongoing. In February 2007, the Energy Ministry of Chile announced that it was beginning technical studies into the development of nuclear power.[23]


Uruguay has a law that prohibits nuclear energy development. However, Uruguay and Russia consider limited cooperation in nuclear energy by using 70 MWe Russian floating nuclear power station which could power infrastructure on-shore via a cable.[133]

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Further reading

External links

  • NEI Public Policy Information
  • Robert J. Duffy. Nuclear Politics in America: A History and Theory of Government Regulation (Studies in Government and Public Policy). Paperback. 1997. ISBN 0-7006-0853-2.
  • Carlton Stoiber, Alec Baer, Norbert Pelzer, Wolfram Tonhauser, Handbook on Nuclear Law, IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), 2003.


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