Review of World Nuclear Power Development
    2011-03-16 21:10:00     Xinhua      Web Editor: Guo
 
Japan's 9.0-magnitude earthquake crippled several reactors at a nuclear power plant, causing radiation leak.

From the establishment of the world's first nuclear plant in the former Soviet Union in 1954, to a large-scale utilization of nuclear power in the 1970s, and to the meltdown of Ukraine's Chernobyl nuclear power plant in 1986, the pursuit of nuclear energy for electricity underwent a circle of expansion and decline. However, nuclear power has regained popularity in recent years.

Following is the four periods in the history of civilian nuclear power use:


EARLY YEARS: mid-1950s to early 1960s

In 1954, the former Soviet Union's Obninsk Nuclear Power Plant became the world's first nuclear power plant to generate electricity, signaling a new era of civilian peaceful use of nuclear power.

During this period, 38 nuclear units were put into operation. They were labeled as Generation 1 nuclear power plants, including Obninsk and Britain's Calder Hall nuclear power station commissioned in 1956.


FAST EXPANSION: mid-1960s to early 1980s

The 1973 oil crisis had a significant effect on the development of nuclear power as a number of countries which had relied heavily on fossil fuels for power were pushed to invest in nuclear power as a substitute.

In this period, a total of 242 nuclear units were commissioned, which were deemed as Generation 2 nuclear power plants. The United States built a number of nuclear plants and exported technologies. With the introduction of U.S. technologies, both Japan and France increased their nuclear power capacities by more than 20 times.


SLOW GROWTH: early 1980s to beginning of the 21st century

The radiation leak in the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Pennsylvania, the United States, in 1979 and in the Chernobyl nuclear plant in 1986, the world's worst nuclear disaster, led to a quick rundown of the world's nuclear industry.

As nuclear safety was brought into the spotlight, countries were forced to take more security measures and stricter examination and approval procedures to ensure the safety of nuclear facilities.


RENAISSANCE: since the 21st century

With the revival of global economies and worsening of the energy crisis, nuclear power, which represents highly efficient clean energy, regained attention. Meanwhile, increasingly improving nuclear safety thanks to years of technological development gave rise to the revival of nuclear power.

In May 2010, Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said nuclear power was growing in popularity globally as concerns grow over climate change.

More than 60 countries were considering using nuclear power to generate electricity. By 2030, between 10 and 25 new countries are expected to put their first nuclear power plants into operation, said Amano.
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