As developing nations around the world strive to industrialize their economies, the global demand for energy continues to skyrocket. Experts in the industry are projecting a 48 percent increase of quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) on a global scale by 2040. Today most poor and developing countries rely predominantly upon inexpensive coal to meet their energy demands. However. state-owned nuclear companies in Russia and China have begun to offer finance and fuel services to emerging global markets, helping push for a more diverse energy mix around the world.
Atco Electric estimates that nuclear power plants were responsible for providing almost 11 percent of global electricity production in 2012, and as of 2015, this chart shows that France, Ukraine and Slovakia remained the world's largest suppliers of nuclear energy. Those figures are poised to shift considerably in coming years, as parts of the world - such as the continent of Africa - enact plans to approach nuclear power production. These countries plan to join other global giants like India, who are also developing their own major nuclear programs to allow for faster and more stable economic growth in the region.
China's Planned Developments
China has reported that it is interested in doubling the amount of nuclear power used in over the course of the next five years. This new Five-Year Plan is calling for the country to have 58 gigawatts of nuclear power generation capacity to be up in operation by the year 2020. Looking even further into the future, China is planning on establishing upwards of 150 gigawatts of nuclear energy by 2030. This is extremely promising news, as a single gigawatt of nuclear power is enough to provide energy for approximately 700,00 homes. Currently, China operates 30 nuclear reactors, generating 2.5 percent of the country's total electrical output. Under the Five-Year Plan, the country promises to construct another 24 reactors, in addition to accelerating construction of industrial reprocessing plants, where experts can reprocess used nuclear fuel.
India's Nuclear Programs
The Toshiba-owned American firm of Westinghouse and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India are planned to come together to close a deal that will install six nuclear reactors in India. The deal is planned to be implemented later in 2016 in order to commercialize a nuclear deal between the United States and India. These major commercial developments can provide the country with a powerful way to optimize their own nuclear production, resulting in the an increased energy output for the country's citizens to enjoy. This plan was first proposed when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met United States President Barack Obama as they discussed mutually beneficial agreements to bolster strategic and economic relationships between the countries.
South African Nuclear Power Innovations
The Integrated Resource Plan developed in 2010 planned for the construction of 9,600 megawatts electric power, capable of being produced by up to eight brand new nuclear reactors. These reactors' construction is planned to be finished by 2030 and there are seven countries bidding to supply South Africa with the reactors, as of 2015. Russian and Chinese companies are currently at the forefront of the bidding as a result of their commitment to the financing. As negotiations continue to move forward, many are excited to see how such energy-based developments can help the country.
Russia to Work With Kenya, Nigeria and Other African Countries for Nuclear Development
In 2016, Nigera signed the Memorandum of Understanding with the Russian Federation in order to improve cooperation between the two countries in pursuit of nuclear energy developments. Experts believe that it is Nigeria's intention to shift towards nuclear technology in order to improve local and global nuclear energy generation. With such a large population, analysts project that such an agreement can be extremely beneficial for the African country. Though the project is estimated to have a high cost, the benefits may be tremendous, especially considering the existing costs that come with so many citizens not having access to electricity.
Countries new to nuclear energy may not make drastic contributions to the expansion of nuclear capacity tomorrow, but their choice to embrace this type of energy is representative of all major international efforts to move further away from carbon-based fuel sources. The longest of journeys, as they say, begins with a single step in the right direction.