While the ongoing debate about nuclear power endures, proponents continue to contend that nuclear power is a safe, sustainable energy source. Despite the criticism, nuclear power contributes over 12.3 percent of the world’s electricity production.
As of May 2014, 30 countries worldwide are operating 435 nuclear reactors for electricity generation and 72 new nuclear plants are under construction in 15 countries, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute.
It is expected that after 30 years of few new nuclear reactors, six new units may come on line by 2020, four of those resulting from 16 license applications made since mid-2007 to build 24 new nuclear reactors, sources from the International Atomic Energy Agency revealed.
Today, the USA is the world’s largest producer of nuclear power, accounting for more than 30% of worldwide nuclear generation of electricity. Our nation’s 100+ nuclear reactors produced 822 billion kWh in 2013, over 19% of total electrical output. There are now 100 units operable throughout the U.S.
As nuclear power and its presence throughout the world continue to grow, the Department of Energy revealed the Top 6 Things You Didn’t Know about Nuclear Power.
- Nuclear power is one of the two ways to produce electricity for multi-year space missions. The other is solar power.
- Small Modular Reactors — or SMRs — are one of the latest nuclear innovations. See this handy SMR infographic on how they’re designed, how they work and why they’re important.
- The Energy Department offers scholarships and fellowships for undergraduate and graduate research in nuclear science. In May, the DoE awarded over $5 million for 42 undergraduate scholarships and 33 graduate fellowships.
- The world’s first full-scale nuclear power plant was opened December 23, 1957 in Shippingport, PA. Just 6 years ago in December, the first nuclear electricity was produced at an Argonne lab site in Idaho.
- Illinois is by far the largest producer of nuclear energy in the United States, followed by Pennsylvania and South Carolina. Illinois produced 1,010.2 trillion British Thermal Units or BTU in 2012. Pennsylvania produced 787.8 trillion BTU and South Carolina produced 536 trillion BTU.
- The Department of Energy has a middle school curriculum that centers on nuclear energy. It’s called The Harnessed Atom.
To learn more about nuclear energy and the Energy Department’s research, check out their nuclear energy page.
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