Nuclear energy provides electricity without producing large amounts of carbon emissions, as is the case with fossil fuels. Nuclear generation is amongst the most cost-effective ways of generating electricity and provides long term certainty over electricity costs.
In 2014 the world's nuclear reactors supplied 2441 TWh of electricity (2441 billion kilowatt hours). This represents around 10% of global electricity consumption.
There are many different electrical generation methods, each having advantages and disadvantages with respect to operational cost, environmental impact, and other factors. Generating electricity from fossil fuels results in greenhouse gas emissions an order of magnitude higher than when using nuclear or renewable generation.
Nuclear technology is not just used to supply electricity to the grid; it is in a wide variety of other uses such as medicine, heating and space travel.
Radiation is energy travelling through space. At high levels it is hazardous, but at low levels such as we all experience naturally, it is harmless. Furthermore, many people owe their lives and health to such radiation produced artificially. Medical and dental X-rays discern hidden problems while other kinds of ionising radiation are used to diagnose ailments, and some people are treated with radiation to cure disease. Ionising radiation such as occurs from uranium ores and nuclear wastes is part of our human environment, and always has been so
The nuclear industry is a global enterprise, and comprises many diverse participants from individuals to companies, industry associations to United Nations and other inter-governmental bodies, and also appointed bodies responsible to national governments.
Number of nuclear reactors operable and under construction: Details of individual reactors operable and under construction can be found in our Nuclear Reactor Database, which uses information supplied by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
A comprehensive list of terms which are commonly used in discussion of nuclear power, the uranium industry and the nuclear fuel cycle.