As the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear crisis slowly comes under control, global attention is turning to broader existential questions about nuclear power. Despite providing 6% of the world's power without emissions and fatalities from their nuclear facilities, countries like Germany and China have announced slow-downs to their nuclear programs, and other countries may soon follow.
How is this going to affect nuclear power around the world? If we wanted to turn off all the nuclear plants, how easy would it be? New Scientist, using the World Nuclear Association's Reactor Database, has made this helpful interactive map of the world's nuclear power plants (minus a few in South America and South Africa). The colors of the dots represent different types of plants.
France, as you can see, is operating more than 50 reactors, which makes sense: it gets 39% of its total power output from nuclear. The U.S., for comparison, gets just 9% of its energy from its more than 70 reactors.
The map also shows nuclear plants currently under construction, which gives a good sense of the countries that have, up to this point, been investing in nuclear power. The U.S. is working on just one nuclear project currently, a second reactor at the already operational Watts Bar power plant in Tennessee. Russia has four under construction; India has five. But China, despite its new hesitation, takes the lead with nine reactors under construction.
Fears of a Fukushima repeat—or worse—aside, there is a lot of emissions-free power coming from nuclear power plants, and a lot of money being invested in building more, probably too much for them to simply go away. If, after the last two weeks, you're very frightened of living close to one, use this map to avoid them.
[Image from Flickr user Paul J. Everett]
Read more coverage of the Japan earthquake.