The destruction of Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant earlier this year has raised concerns about safety risks associated with nuclear power. But it continues to be an important aspect of the energy mix.
Nuclear power plants supplied 13% of the world’s electricity in 2010, and with energy demand set to rise from 12.1 billion metric tons of oil equivalent (Mtoe) in 2009, to 16.96 billion Mtoe in 2035, it is no surprise that some countries are still aggressively pursuing nuclear energy.
With its burgeoning population and rapidly growing economy, China is starved for energy. The Asian giant has 13 operational reactors, but has another 28 reactors under construction. It affirmed in its 12th five-year plan the target to start construction of an additional 40 GW of nuclear capacity from 2011 – 2015.
The IEA also talked about what could happen if the share of nuclear power in total generation drops from 13% in 2010 to 7% in 2035. Net-importing regions would spend $90 billion more on gas and coal imports, energy-related CO2 emissions would rise, and nuclear power dependent countries like Belgium, France, Japan and Korea would be hit hard, as would emerging giants like India and China.
Here’s a chart from the IEA’s world energy report that shows that nuclear power is being pursued most aggressively in non-OECD countries: