LONDON (Reuters) - The government on Wednesday will give the strongest signal yet that it wants a new fleet of nuclear power plants to be built as part of its plan to secure energy supplies and combat global warming.
Nuclear power supplies some 20 percent of the country’s electricity, but most of the stations are to be closed within a decade due to old age, and the youngest one -- Sizewell B -- is due to close in 2035.
Nuclear power proponents say it is a clean power source that, in contrast to fossil fuels, does not emit climate warming carbon dioxide. They also say its fuel can be easily stockpiled and does not leave countries at the mercy of oil and gas exporting nations such as Russia.
Following are some facts about nuclear power:
* Nuclear power supplies 16 percent of the world’s electricity and 34 percent of the European Union’s.
* 15 of the EU’s 27 members have nuclear power plants, with the percentage of electricity supplied ranging from 78 percent in France to just 3.5 percent in the Netherlands.
* Attitudes vary across the bloc. France has committed to renewing its reactor fleet, Finland is building a new plant, Germany and Sweden have committed to phasing out nuclear power and the Dutch have reversed a previous decision to phase it out.
* Italy used to have four nuclear power reactors, but it shut down the last two following the Chernobyl nuclear accident in 1986. Consideration is being given to nuclear new build.
* Nuclear power accounts for 20 percent of electricity in the United States, and the government is actively promoting new nuclear plants through tax breaks.
* Boom economy China gets just 1.9 percent of its electricity from 11 nuclear reactors, but four more are under construction, 23 are in the planning stages and there are proposals for another 54.
* Worldwide there are 437 working reactors, with another 30 under construction, 74 planned and 162 proposed.
Statistics from the World Nuclear Association.
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