Top 10 Nuclear Plants In The World
Energy Digital takes a look at the history and operations of the largest nuclear power plants in the world, ranked by energy generation capacity.
10 | Hanbit
Constructed in South Korea’s Jeollanam-do province, the Hanbit Nuclear Power Plant has six operational units ranging from 947MW to 997MW subdivided into three variants.
Hanbit 1 and 2 use pressurised light water reactors (PWRs) built via South Korea’s ‘component approach’, which utilised domestic companies for auxiliary parts and contracted international designs for primary parts. Meanwhile, Hanbit 3 and 4 were constructed using entirely domestic sources, while Hanbit 5 and 6 were inspired by Ulchin-3 reactors - a Korean Standard Nuclear Power design.
Country: South Korea
9 | Cattenom
Construction for the Cattenom plant began in 1979 in Cattenom, France. Consisting of four pressurised water reactors (PWRs), each with a power output of 1,300MW, the site uses water from the Moselle River in combination with four cooling towers. Additionally, an artificial lake was created in Pierre-Percée to provide a greater supply of coolant.
Two of the plant’s units were successfully commissioned in 1986 and 1987, with the third and fourth becoming operational in 1990 and 1991 respectively. The plant employs 1,200 full-time workers and supplements a further 1,000 during outages - periods where the reactors are powered down and maintenance is performed.
8 | Paluel
Placed within the French town of Paluel, Normandy, the plant provides employment to almost 1,250 people. With its capacity provided by four 1,330MW reactors, Paluel provides over 32 billion KWhs of electricity per year.
Construction of the plant began in 1977, with the first and second units being commissioned in 1985, the third in 1986 and the fourth in the summer of the same year. The reactors use water from the English Channel as a source of coolant.
7 | Gravelines
Using water from the North Sea as coolant, the Gravelines power plant is situated 12 miles from Dunkerque. Providing employment for over 1,600 people, it is the largest nuclear power station in Western Europe and holds the record for being the first station to generate over 1,000TWhs of electricity.
Owned by Electricite de France (EDF), the plant has a 5,460MW capacity derived from six 910MW reactors. The reactors were constructed in batches of two in 1980, 1981 and 1985.
6 | Zaporizhia
Becoming the largest Eastern European nuclear power plant in 1995 following the completion of its sixth reactor, Zaporizhia is located in Enerhodar, Ukraine, on the banks of the Kakovka Reservoir.
Responsible for generating approximately 20% of Ukraine’s entire electricity supply, Zaporizhia from six pressurised water reactors (PWRs). All six units were completed in a nine-year period (1984 to 1995). Following an application made by Energoatom - the nuclear power company operating the plant - the first two units are currently being assessed for modernisation efforts in an effort to extend their operational lifespan.
5 | Hanul
Containing six pressurised water reactors (PWRs), Hanul Nuclear Power Plant located in Gyeongsangbuk-do is South Korea’s second-largest. The plant began construction in 1983 and became operational in 1988. After numerous developments, the latest of which was completed in 2018, the plant has a nameplate capacity of 5,928MW.
The first Korean Standard Nuclear Power (KSNP) project, Hanul’s construction was part of a plan to attain a self-sufficient source of electricity. One of the sites - Hanul 3 - was the first to employ KSNP’s tech in 1998, which introduced a depressurisation system and superior chemical, volume and digital control.
Country: South Korea
Capacity: 5,928 MW
4 | Yangjiang
The conception for China’s largest power station started in 1988, when the site in Yangjiang, Guangdong was selected for development. Once the project received approval from the Chinese Government in 2004, construction began in 2008, with the first ACPR-1000 reactor starting in September 2013.
Employing six 1,000MW units to generate power, Yangjiang Nuclear Power Plant helped reduce the region’s coal consumption by 30,900kg and cut 80,800kg of CO2 emissions. One of the units - the fifth, called Yangjiang NPP - is also the first to adopt a Chinese control system: FirmSys.
3 | Bruce
Located in Bruce County, Ontario, the 2,300 acre Bruce Nuclear Generation Station site has eight functional reactors with a combined capacity of 6,430 MW. Providing employment to more than 4,000 people, the plant was built modularly over a 17 year period (1970 to 1987) by Ontario Hydro.
Generating approximately 20% of the province’s electricity requirements, the plant is divided into two separate stations: Bruce A and Bruce B. Both stations employ four Canada Deuterium Uranium (CANDU) nuclear reactors. Fuelled by uranium, technicians moderate the core using deuterium-oxide, which allows them to safely control the power output of the reactors.
2 | Kori
Located in a Kori, Busan, the construction of the Kori Nuclear Power Plant began in 1972. The first reactor began active operations in 1978, with six additional units added over the years, ranging from power outputs of 640MW to 1,340MW.
In an effort to maintain safety and ensure that the plant continues to operate using modern technology, Kori-1 (the plant’s first reactor) was decommissioned in 2017. Meanwhile, construction of the Kori-5 and 6, which are to be third-generation reactors equipped with state-of-the-art safety features, is still under development.
Country: South Korea
1 | Kashiwazaki-Kariwa
The largest nuclear power station in the world by output capacity, Kashiwazaki-Kariwa is based on a 4.2km2 site in Japan. Located close to the Sea of Japan, which the site utilises for cooling water, construction of the plant began in 1980 by the Tokyo Electric Power Company and finished five years later. Containing seven operational units - five at 1,067MW and two at 1,315MW - the reactors are fuelled by low-enriched uranium.
Following a high-magnitude earthquake in 2011 - the most powerful in Japanese history - all of the plant’s units were shut down for safety inspections, although the plant was relatively unaffected by the earthquake directly. As of 2020, however, the reactors have still not been brought back to functional use.
Capacity: 7,965 MW