THE BIG PICTURE: Reactors Under Construction

For seven years in a row, the number of new nuclear construction starts increased markedly. Then the accident at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi plant occurred, prompting shutdowns of existing plants and a rethinking of future plans in many countries. Nevertheless, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) expects “continuous and significant growth” in the use of nuclear power in the next two decades, even if the rate is slower than previously expected. The chart shows reactors under construction worldwide (IAEA data updated Oct. 3, 2011). The number under each bar indicates the number of units under construction by a country, while bar height shows total MWe under construction. (The China total includes two units [2,600 MWe total] in Taiwan.) In this issue we recognize the year’s nuclear Top Plants. All are outside of North America. This chart indicates that could be the case for years to come.

Sonal Patel is senior writer and Dr. Gail Reitenbach is managing editor of POWER.