Asia's Nuclear Energy Growth

(Updated April 2018)

  • Asia is the main region in the world where electricity generating capacity and specifically nuclear power are growing significantly.
  • In Asia there are about 130 operable nuclear power reactors, 35 under construction and firm plans to build an additional 70-80. Many more are proposed.
  • The greatest growth in nuclear generation is expected in China.

In contrast to North America and most of Western Europe, where growth in electricity generating capacity and particularly nuclear power has been limited for many years, a number of countries in Asia are planning and building new nuclear power reactors to meet their increasing demand for clean electricity.

Between December 2007 and December 2017, the number of operable reactors in Asia increased from 106 to 131. Most new units have been added in China (26), where over the 10-year period generation from nuclear has increased by about 400%. Currently over two-thirds of the reactors under construction worldwide are in Asia.


38 operable reactors (34.6 GWe), 20 under construction (21.5 GWe), 41 planned (48.5 GWe).

China is moving ahead rapidly in building new nuclear power plants. Units currently under construction are a mix of indigenous and Western designs. 

The government's long-term target, as outlined in its Energy Development Strategy Action Plan 2014-2020, is for 58 GWe capacity by 2020, with 30 GWe more under construction. The impetus for nuclear power in China is increasingly due to air pollution from coal-fired plants.


22 operable reactors (6.2 GWe), 6 under construction (4.4 GWe), 15 planned (11.6 GWe).

India has achieved independence in its nuclear fuel cycle. The Indian government is committed to growing its nuclear power capacity as part of its massive infrastructure development program. The government expects nuclear capacity to reach about 22.5 GWe by the year 2031.

India is a pioneer in developing the thorium fuel cycle, and has several advanced facilities related to this. 


42 units operable reactors (40 GWe) though many of these shut down temporarily, 2 under construction, 9 planned (total 13 GWe).

Japan was generating up to 30% of its electricity from nuclear power up to 2011. Nuclear contribution had been expected to increase to 41% by 2017, and longer-term plans were to double nuclear capacity (to 90 GWe) and nuclear share by 2050. However, following the Fukushima accident in March 2011, these plans were scaled back, with nuclear expected to provide about 20% of electricity following the conclusion of the reactor restart process.

Japan is committed to reprocessing its used fuel to recover uranium and plutonium for re-use in electricity production.

South Korea

24 operable reactors (22.5 GWe), 4 under construction (5.6 GWe), 6 planned (8.8 GWe).

South Korea meets just under 30% of its electricity needs from nuclear power. Nuclear energy has long been a strategic priority for South Korea, but the new president elected in 2017 is aiming to phase it out over some 45 years.

South Korea is among the world's most prominent nuclear energy countries, and exports its technology widely. It is currently involved in the building of four nuclear reactors in the UAE, under a $20 billion contract.  


5 operable reactors (1.4 GWe), 2 under construction (2.3 GWe), 1 planned (1.2 GWe).

Pakistan generates about 6% of its electricity from nuclear. An expansion of nuclear capacity has long been a central element of Pakistan's energy policy. The government's 2014 plans outlined an aim for 8.9 GWe of nuclear capacity at ten sites by 2030.

Emerging countries

Multiple other countries in Asia are planning to introduce nuclear power into their electricty mix. Full details can be found in the World Nuclear Association's Emerging Nuclear Countries information paper.

Nuclear Power in Asia, and Involvement with the Nuclear Fuel Cycle

  Power Reactors Operable Power Reactors Under Construction Power Reactors Planned Research Reactors Operable Other Stages of the Fuel Cycle
Australia       1 UM
Bangladesh   1 1 1  
China 38 20 39 16 UM, C, E, FF
India 22 6 19 4 UM, FF, R, WM
Indonesia     1 2 FF
Japan 42 2 9 1 C, E, FF, R, WM
Kazakhstan       4 UM
S. Korea 24 4 1 2 C, FF
N. Korea       1 C?,FF?,R
Malaysia       1  
Pakistan 5 2 1 2 UM, E, FF
Vietnam     4 1  
Total 131 35 76 36  

Key: UM Uranium mining, C Conversion, E Enrichment, FF Fuel fabrication, R Reprocessing, WM Waste management facilities for used fuel away from reactors.

Notes & references


WNA reactor table, WNA country papers





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