Rounding out the Top 5 global nuclear producers were Russia (7.6% global share) and South Korea (4.9% global share).
Japan had the largest percentage increase of nuclear power in 2018, with a 68.9% rise over 2017 production. Nevertheless, nuclear generation in Japan remains well below pre-Fukushima levels.
Japan wasn’t the only country that experienced growth in nuclear power in 2018. China, Switzerland, Pakistan, Taiwan, Mexico, and Argentina all experienced double-digit gains in nuclear power generation from 2017. Countries with double-digit declines were South Korea, Belgium, and South Africa.
Germany remains committed to completely phasing out nuclear power, but the country’s nuclear power generation was nearly unchanged from 2017. Germany remains one of the world’s Top 10 producers of nuclear power.
Nuclear Power’s Impact
As I pointed out in the previous article, renewables like wind and solar are poised to generate more electricity globally than nuclear power either this year or next year. While we can celebrate the fact that renewables are growing, it’s important to keep in mind that they aren’t growing rapidly enough to stop the growth of power produced from fossil fuels. Further, these sources don’t represent firm power that can be called upon on demand.
Last year global consumption of coal, oil, and natural gas was nearly four times the growth in renewables. As a result, global carbon dioxide emissions set a new all-time high in 2018. Those trends are likely to continue for the foreseeable future. The world will experience a rapid growth rate for renewables, but even greater overall growth from fossil fuels.
Nuclear power could help solve that problem, because it is the only large-scale firm power source that doesn’t generate carbon emissions during its operation. But the general public has a fear of nuclear power. We must address and overcome this collective fear if nuclear power is to help displace fossil fuels. That can only be achieved by convincing the public that accidents like Chernobyl and Fukushima are no longer possible.