World nuclear energy forecast: 615 GW capacity by 2040

Nuclear generation capacity could grow by 2.6 percent annually around the world, despite some retirements and delayed or abandoned projects in the west.

A new report by the World Nuclear Association forecast reactor power generation to reach 615 GW by 2040. Nuclear power currently generates about 10 percent of the world electricity supply, but up to 20 percent in the U.S.

According to the WNA calculation, current global nuclear capacity is at about 394 GW from 442 reactor units (94 in the U.S.). Some 60 GW of capacity is currently under construction, but only a few of those in the U.S. and United Kingdom.

Many are touting nuclear, which does not emit carbon in its power generation phase, as a means of helping to reach zero carbon goals by 2050.

The uranium supply chain, however, is challenged by relatively low production rates over the past five years. The WNA report says that the industry needs to double its development pipeline of projects by 2040.

Most new nuclear projects in being built in Asia. The United Arab Emirates commissioned the Middle East’s first nuclear plant, the Barakah station, last year. China built close to 20 new nuclear plants in the past decade and is developing a pilot project focused on thorium as a fuel.


  • Rod Walton is content director for Power Engineering, POWERGEN International and the online POWERGEN+ series. He is a 13-year veteran of covering the energy industry both as a newspaper journalist and trade publication editor. He can be reached at 918-831-9177 and

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