the Nuclear Energy Pack
Believe it or not, as of 2005, the U.S. is still the world's largest
generator of commercial electrical power using nuclear energy, although as a percentage
of the total national electrical energy generated, it ranks only #13 out of the
top 30. In 2005, there were 103 commercial nuclear generating units operate here.
In all, those power stations generate about 20% of our nation's power. I was surprised
to learn that it is that high of a percentage. In December 2005 alone, 71.7 billion
kWh of energy was produced by those stations, according to the Department of Energy's
(DoE) Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Coal has been and continues to dominate as the primary
fuel, accounting for about 40% of the world's generation. Natural gas and renewable
(hydroelectric, wind turbines, etc.) sources each contribute approximately 18% of
the world's total, nuclear 16%, and oil 8%.
Total energy consumption worldwide
for 2005 was an astounding 26 trillion kWh. That's up from 14.3 trillion kWh in
2002. Much of the increase has been due to China's rapid industrialization. China
could use more nuclear power plants to stem the rise in pollution. The major Chinese
cities suffer enormously from smog now because environmental regulations are practically
non-existent. As of 2004, only about 3% of China's total energy was supplied by
nuclear power plants. Coal, natural gas, timber, hydro, and oil fuel the bulk of
China's rising industrial power, with virtually unchecked emissions. Sure, they
are signatories to the Kyoto Protocol, but do not – or do, if you live there – hold
your breath while waiting for meaningful clean air regulations for be implemented
and enforced since organized protestors would likely be rolled over by tanks ala
the Tiananmen Square massacre.
Here is a list of countries that currently
have nuclear power plants, along with the approximate portion of the country's total
energy consumption provided by nuclear power. Note that many are part of the former
USSR, and had established their nuclear programs before the breakup.