Nuclear power is making a comeback.
Once synonymous with disaster (think Chernobyl in 1986), this infinite source of energy has since managed to alter its reputation in the eyes of many experts, proving its worth as a viable provider of energy across the globe.
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And although the debate continues between activists, specialists, politicians and consumers, so too does the demand for and use of nuclear power, as illustrated through the 10 largest power plants (based on power generation) listed below.
10. Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station
Location: Arizona, United States
Site Capacity: 3,942 MW
Located on the Gila River, which is usually dry except during the late summer rainy season, the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station was first commissioned in 1986 and is the only large nuclear power plant not located on a significantly-sized body of water.
Operated by the Arizona Public Service, the plant is the largest in the United States yet features just three reactors. It is owned by several organizations, including Arizona Public Service, Salt River Project and El Paso Electric Co.
The Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station can provide enough power for up to 4 million consumers.
9. Qinshan Nuclear Power Plant
Location: Qinshan, Zhejiang, China
Site Capacity: 4,038 MW
The Qinshan Nuclear Power Plant has the largest number of reactors at one location – seven – with two additional reactors currently under construction. Most of these reactors are mid-sized, generating between 298 MW and 700 MW of power each.
The plant, which was first commissioned in 1985, is operated by the Qinshan Nuclear Power Company and has the capacity to generate 4,038 MW of power, not including the new reactors yet to come online.
Already the largest nuclear power plant in China, the country has also discussed plans to develop an additional two reactors for the site at a later date.
8. Oi Nuclear Power Plant
Location: Oi, Fukui Prefecture, Japan
Site Capacity: 4,494 MW
Japan's second-largest nuclear plant behind the currently non-operational Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant (see sidebar) is the Oi Nuclear Power Plant.
First commissioned in 1979, this older plant has just two operational reactors. Two additional reactors (the oldest) were taken offline in September of 2013, and no current plan exists to bring them back online.
The plant is managed by Kansai Electric Power Company and sits on 460 acres of land in a smaller city. The plant's design allows for as much as 4,494 MW of power by net capacity, and it produces 32,808 GWh of power annually.
7. Cattenom Nuclear Power Plant
Location: Cattnom, France
Site Capacity: 5,448 MW
Located on the Moselle River, the Cattenom Nuclear Power Plant is the third largest in France and has an annual generation of 34,084 GWh. The initial reactor was commissioned in 1979, and all four were operational by 1991.
Owned by the EDF, this plant utilizes pressurized water reactors that produce about 1,300 MW of power each and, when all reactors are operational, has a capacity of 5,448 MW.
6. Paluel Nuclear Power Plant
Location: Paluel, France
Site Capacity: 5,528 MW
Similar to Cattenom, the Paluel Nuclear Power Plant also uses pressurized water reactors to create as much as 5,528 MW of power through its four total reactors, each of which generates a maximum of 1,330 MW of power.
Commissioned in 1984, this plant uses the water from the English Channel for cooling. EDF, the operator of the plant, is the second-largest utility company in the world and reports that, on average, the plant provides 32 billion KWh of power to the nation's grid each year.
The Paluel plant has annual generation of 34,402 GWh.
5. Zaporizhia Nuclear Power Plant
Location: Enerhodar, Ukraine
Site Capacity: 5,700 MW
Commissioned in 1985, the Zaporizhia Nuclear Power Plant is the second largest in Europe. This six-plant facility uses pressurized light water nuclear reactors, which each generate about 1,000 MW of power.
This state-owned plant is run by Energoatom, and generates more than 20 percent of the country's total electricity generation. Its overall net capacity is 5,700 MW of power. The plant does not run all six reactors all of the time, but its six generators can produce half of Ukraine's nuclear energy.
4. Gravelines Nuclear Power Station
Location: Nord, France
Site Capacity: 5,700
France is one of the largest consumers of this type of power: Up to 75 percent of the country’s electricity comes from its nuclear plants.
The Gravelines Nuclear Power Station, located about 12 miles from Dunkerque and Calais, is the largest in Europe with an annual generation of 38,462 GWh.
First commissioned in 1980, this plant is owned by EDF, one of the largest power companies in the world, and is home to six nuclear reactors—each of which has the capacity for about 951 MW of power.
Interestingly, the warm water created from the plant helps local fish farmers in the area raise European sea bass.
3. Hanbit Nuclear Power Plant
Location: Jeollanam-do, South Korea
Site Capacity: 5,875 MW
Operated by Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power, the Hanbit Nuclear Power Plant, features six units using pressurized water reactors and produces 5,875 MW of power when running at maximum capacity.
First established in 1986, this plant is one of 21 commercial nuclear plants located in the country.
2. Hanul Nuclear Power Plant
Location: Gyeongsangbuk-do, South Korea
Site Capacity: 5,881 MW
The Hanul Nuclear Power Plant, first commissioned in 1988, is also operated by Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power. This impressive plant has six pressurized water reactors and is poised for growth, with two new reactors likely to be completed by 2018.
This plant's unique design allows it to withstand 6.5 magnitude earthquakes, and the newer reactors being built at the facility will meet guidelines to withstand 7 magnitude tremors. The Hanul plant has an annual generation of about 48,160 GWh of power.
1. Bruce Nuclear Generation Station
Location: Ontario, Canada
Site Capacity: 6,300 MW
The Bruce Nuclear Generation Station sits on the edge of Lake Huron and occupies 2,300 acres of space. It is the largest generating station in the world based on total reactor count, and is the largest plant in North America by size.
The plant produces 3,000 MW of electricity at the Bruce A plant and, combined with its secondary location, Bruce B, produces a total of 6,300 MW of power.
First commissioned in 1977, the plant is owned by Ontario Power Generation and has an annual generation of 45,000 GWh.
It's important to note that not all countries and operators release detailed information about their plant's current electricity generation, and revenue may be slightly skewed due to different calculation methods.
However, it is safe to say that nuclear power energy will continue to grow as more plants develop and more reactors come online to meet the growing needs of the world's population—and these 10 are just scratching the surface.