Day: March 18, 2011

Nuclear Power Plants in Minnesota and around the world

The Japan earthquake/tsunami and the resulting crisis at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant brought much attention to the dangers of nuclear power plants. I wondered how many nuclear power plants we have in Minnesota, in the US and around the world.

According to the World Nuclear Association, the United States has 104 nuclear reactors in 31 states, operated by 30 different power companies, and the world has 440 commercial nuclear power reactors. Here are some facts from the World Nuclear Association.

  • The USA is the world’s largest producer of nuclear power, accounting for more than 30% of worldwide nuclear generation of electricity. 
  • The country’s 104 nuclear reactors produced 799 billion kWh in 2009, over 20% of total electrical output. 
  • Following a 30-year period in which few new reactors were built, it is expected that 4-6 new units may come on line by 2018, the first of those resulting from 16 licence applications to build 24 new nuclear reactors made since mid-2007. 
  • Government policy changes since the late 1990s have helped pave the way for significant growth in nuclear capacity. Government and industry are working closely on expedited approval for construction and new plant designs. 
  • The first commercial nuclear power stations started operation in the 1950s. 
  • There are now over 440 commercial nuclear power reactors operating in 30 countries, with 377,000 MWe of total capacity. 
  • They provide about 14% of the world’s electricity as continuous, reliable base-load power, and their efficiency is increasing. 
  • 56 countries operate a total of about 250 research reactors and a further 180 nuclear reactors power some 140 ships and submarines. 

Here’s a list of all the nuclear reactors of the world, sorted by country.

Minnesota has two nuclear power plants, both are in Southern Minnesota along the Mississippi River: the Prairie Island Nuclear Plant in Welch (near Red Wing) and the Monticello Nuclear plant in Monticello. Both are owned by Xcel Energy. 

Woodbury is about 50 miles away from Red Wing. It feels like a nuclear plant is right in my backyard. And it’s an unsettling feeling.