Skip to main content

Interactive: How Fukushima changed world's attitudes to nuclear power

updated 8:59 AM EDT, Wed March 12, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The Fukushima nuclear disaster changed attitudes towards nuclear power
  • Germany shut down its oldest reactors and plans to phase-out nuclear by 2022
  • Emerging markets are investing heavily into nuclear power

(CNN) -- It's been three years since Japan was hit with its worst-ever earthquake, causing serious damage to Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The 9 magnitude quake and subsequent tsunami sent three of Fukushima's reactors into melt-down, shocking the world. Japan, a fully industrialized country with high safety requirements, was facing a nuclear disaster of a similar scale to the deadly 1986 Chernobyl accident, in Soviet Ukraine.

As a result, many countries decided to review their energy policies.

Before the accident, 442 nuclear power reactors in 30 countries produced 14% of all world's electricity.

See inside Japan's damaged nuclear plant
Nuclear power for the future?
The children of Fukushima

This number dropped to just 11% in 2012, as 15 reactors exited service -- mainly in Germany and Japan.

Today, 435 reactors operate in 31 countries, and a further 68 are under construction.

After the Fukushima disaster, Japan pulled back its nuclear ambitions, ordered large-scale inspections and introduced new safety regulations. All of its 48 remaining reactors have been kept offline and a proposal to restart the program awaits parliament's approval.

Germany shut down eight of its oldest reactors almost immediately after Fukushima, focusing instead on renewable energy, and phase-out all of its nuclear power by 2022.

Switzerland adopted a similar approach when the government decided not to build any new reactors and phase out its nuclear production by 2034. This was despite a national referendum in which a majority of people voted in favor of more reactors.

But not all countries got scared.

Both France, which has the world's highest share of nuclear power for its electricity production, and the U.S., the world's largest producer, reaffirmed their positions on the power source. Both countries continue to invest heavily into safety improvements.

All four "BRIC" countries are boosting their nuclear power production, with India aiming to supply 25% and Russia 45% of their electricity from nuclear power by 2050, and Brazil planning to build five new reactors by 2030.

China is facing pressure to cut its pollution levels and reliance on coal. China already operates 20 reactors and aims to more than triple its nuclear capacity by 2020.

Read more: The 'nuclear renaissance:' What went wrong?
Read more: Five big questions about Fukushima's nuclear power mess
Read more: Inside Fukushima damaged power plant

Editor's note: Due to variations in terminology, various sources quote slightly different numbers of nuclear reactors worldwide. For the purpose of this report, CNN used World Nuclear Association data and considered only the reactors connected to the grid and supplying electricity to consumers as active.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:14 AM EDT, Wed September 24, 2014
Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea -- the three countries facing the biggest health crisis -- are also facing huge bills to try and contain the virus.
updated 9:16 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Twitter has lost its position in the top 20 coolest brands for the first time in three years.
updated 11:54 AM EDT, Thu September 25, 2014
As the crisis in Iraq escalates, CNN looks at how Iraq could crack down on ISIS' oil riches under the guidance of its new oil minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi.
updated 4:42 AM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
Recep Tayyip Erdogan is Turkey's new president . So can he revitalize its economic fortunes?
updated 1:24 PM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Experts share their tips on cities they see as emerging financial hubs...they're not where you think.
updated 9:40 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Growing numbers of us are willing to serve as bank, teacher or travel agent to people we have never met, and entrust them to serve us in turn.
updated 8:44 AM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
The European Union is stepping in to save its dairy from going sour.
updated 8:36 AM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
Europe's deteriorating relationship with Russia has hit the region's growth, even before new food sanctions begin to bite.
updated 12:34 PM EDT, Wed July 16, 2014
With cyberattacks on the rise and here to stay, it's a modern-day challenge for people and businesses to get smarter about preventing them.
updated 9:24 AM EDT, Thu August 14, 2014
Airstrikes, rebels seizing control of oil fields, plus a severe refugee crisis are a recipe for market panic. So why are Iraq oil prices stable?
updated 7:24 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Peer-to-peer finance lets businesses bypass bank loans. Creative companies with quirky ideas find new lending models advantageous.
updated 11:24 AM EDT, Sun July 20, 2014
Evidence points to pro-Russian separatists as perpetrators of the attack and Vladimir Putin is facing questions, David Clark writes.
updated 5:52 AM EDT, Wed September 3, 2014
CNN's Jim Boulden looks on the future of online shopping.
updated 10:40 AM EDT, Tue August 5, 2014
The biggest Ebola outbreak in history is taking its toll in Western Africa, hitting some of West Africa's most vulnerable economies.
ADVERTISEMENT