In the 1980s, 218 nuclear power reactors started up, an average of one every 17 days. These included 47 in USA, 42 in France and 18 in Japan. These were fairly large - average power was 923.5 MWe. So it is not hard to imagine a similar number being commissioned in the years ahead. But with China and India getting up to speed in nuclear energy and a world energy demand increasing, a realistic estimate of what is possible (but not planned at this stage) might be the equivalent of one 1000 MWe unit worldwide every 5 days.
In Russia, six reactors and two small ones are under active construction, one large one being a large fast neutron reactor. About 30 further reactors are then planned, some to to replace existing plants. This will increase the country's present nuclear power capacity by 50% by 2030. In addition about 5 GW of nuclear thermal capacity is planned. A small floating power plant is expected to be completed by 2016 and others are planned to follow.
South Korea plans to bring a further further four reactors into operation by 2018, and another eight by about 2030, giving total new capacity of 17,200 MWe. All of these are the Advanced PWRs of 1400 MWe. These APR-1400 designs have evolved from a US design which has US NRC design certification, and four been sold to the UAE (see below).
The United Arab Emirates awarded a $20.4 billion contract to a South Korean consortium to build four 1400 MWe reactors by 2020. The first three are under construction.
India has 21 reactors in operation, and six under construction. This includes two large Russian reactors and a large prototype fast breeder reactor as part of its strategy to develop a fuel cycle which can utilise thorium. Over 20 further units are planned. 18 further units are planned, and proposals for more - including western and Russian designs - are taking shape following the lifting of trade restrictions.
In China, now with 26 operating reactors on the mainland, the country is well into the next phase of its nuclear power program. Some 24 reactors are under construction, including the world's first Westinghouse AP1000 units, and a demonstration high-temperature gas-cooled reactor plant. Many more units are planned, including two largely indigenous designs – the Hualong One and CAP1400. China aims to more than double its nuclear capacity by 2020.
China should complete three more nuclear reactors in 2015 to get to 26 Gigawatts of operational nuclear power.
By the end of 2016, China should have 34.5 GW (Adding 8.5 GW in 2016) of operational nuclear power.
By the end of 2017, China should have 43.7 GW (Adding 9.2 GW in 2017) of operational nuclear power.
The end of 2017 would be the completion of the third wave of nuclear power construction.
In 2016, China should be the third largest nuclear power generating country. They will be ahead of Russia. Japan would be third if they turned on all of their nuclear plants.
By 2020, China should have 58GW and will be closing in on second place France with about 63GW. The USA is number one with about 99GW.