That depends on a lot of highly variable factors. In pure theory, the amount of energy that could potentially be generated by nuclear power is limited only by the supply of fuel (typically uranium) on Earth and the efficiency of the generating engines. In reality this potential is severely limited by other factors, such as the political and environmental concerns about how to safely dispose of nuclear waste, and also the daunting economics and logistics of constructing nuclear power plants. Nuclear power currently accounts for about 15% of the world’s energy generation. There are 439 nuclear plants in operation in 31 countries, with a number of others currently planned, including just this week a new one in the United States. While nuclear power is becoming a subject of more interest lately in the wake of rising fossil fuel prices and concerns over climate change, the number of actual power plants coming on line in the next 20 years will probably decline. This is in part because of the colossal front-end investment needed to build the plants, the difficulty of repairing or replacing aging plants, and political concerns over the safety of nuclear reactors and waste disposal methods. In reality, while it is just a guess, I would not expect nuclear power to exceed by very much the 15% share of world energy production that it currently holds, at least not for several more decades.
The graph available for download at this link (it’s 66KB) is provided by the Nuclear Energy Institute. It provides a breakdown of nuclear power generation capacity by country, for those countries with nuclear plants.
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