Developed countries and major economies around the globe are extending the duration of nuclear power plants, opening closed reactors and approving new nuclear projects in the face of the energy crisis caused by rapidly increasing natural gas and electricity prices.
Since the leak in the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan in 2011, public pressure has increased in many countries over safety precautions for nuclear power plants.
Due to raised environmental awareness and climate change along with the transition away from hydrocarbons, some countries have prepared plans to phase out nuclear plants.
This year, however, with the rise in geopolitical tensions and the energy crisis after the Russia-Ukraine war, the agendas of environmentalists in developed countries have been set aside in favor of policies which prioritize energy security.
In recent months, major economies worldwide have revised plans to revive nuclear energy. These have transpired in the extension of operation times of aging nuclear reactors and the reopening of closed reactors, along with plans for new nuclear power plant projects to ensure energy supply security while maintaining electricity production with the rapid increase in fossil fuel prices and supply shortages.
With 54 operating nuclear reactors, China meets 5% of its electricity needs from nuclear power.
Currently, 22 reactors are under construction in the country, and the construction of 38 more reactors has received approval.
It also aims to build six to eight nuclear reactors each year by 2025 to ensure its place as the country with the highest capacity globally in this field by 2030.
The country approved the construction of six new reactors in April and the construction of four new reactors for two nuclear power plants this week.
The US, with 92 active reactors providing 20% of its electricity demand, is a leader in nuclear energy with its ability to make intensive modular nuclear reactor studies and investments.
Currently, the construction of two reactors is ongoing in the US.
Recently, the country has undertaken studies and research to construct nuclear facilities on old thermal power plant sites.
India's 22 nuclear reactors provide 3% of its electricity production, while eight new reactors are under construction.
The country aims to triple its nuclear power generation in the next ten years by installing 12 new reactors.
With the energy crisis, its largest electricity generation company started investing in two new nuclear reactors.
Before the accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in 2011, Japan met 30% of its electricity demand from nuclear power. Although it closed most of its reactors after the accident, 33 nuclear reactors are still operating.
With rising energy prices, Japan announced plans to increase the number of active reactors until winter. In addition to the seven active reactors, the country decided to activate nine more reactors to supply 10% of its electricity demand from nuclear power.
Nuclear power plants provide 28% of the country’s electricity production. It has 25 active reactors and three more are under construction.
With the energy crisis, South Korea reneged on plans to continue its nuclear exit strategy and decided to increase investments. The country plans to build ten nuclear power plants by 2030, increasing the share of nuclear in electricity generation to 30%.
The German government also began to prepare for the possibility of Russian gas interruptions.
Last year, the share of nuclear in electricity generation stood at 12%, thanks to six nuclear reactors.
Although the country planned to phase out nuclear power generation, it took urgent measures to fill the deficit power generation gap before the winter heating season.
Two nuclear power plants, Isar 2 in Bavaria and Neckarwestheim 2 in Baden-Württemberg, will now be put on standby, and made available for emergency reserves until mid-April 2023.
With nine nuclear reactors in operation in the UK, the country meets 15% of its power demand from nuclear sources.
With the energy crisis, the UK approved a nuclear power plant project at a total cost of £30 billion. As part of this project, the construction of the two-reactor Sizewell C nuclear power plant in the southeast of the country is scheduled to start in the coming years.
France meets 70% of its electricity production from 56 nuclear reactors around the country.
French energy company EDF has accelerated its maintenance to activate more reactors during the winter.
French President Emmanuel Macron announced plans to build 14 new nuclear reactors to ease the dependence on fossil fuels. The country will invest in mini modular nuclear reactor (SMR) technologies.
A total of seven reactors operate in Belgium's two nuclear power plants. The electricity produced meets about half of the country's needs.
To navigate the energy crisis, the operation period of two nuclear power plants in Belgium, which were initially planned for closure in 2025, was extended for another ten years. In addition, the country plans to extend the operation period of two other reactors that were due to close this winter.
The Netherlands, which has one nuclear reactor, announced investment plans for two new nuclear reactors.
Poland also plans to construct six new nuclear reactors and has started working on small-scale nuclear reactor investments.