Around 11% of the world's electricity is produced from nuclear energy. Most nuclear electricity is generated using just two kinds of reactors. New designs are coming forward and some are in operation as the first generation reactors come to the end of their operating lives.
Improved designs of nuclear power reactors are currently being developed in several countries. Newer advanced reactors now being built have simpler designs which reduce capital cost. They are more fuel efficient and are inherently safer.
There is revival of interest in small and simpler units for generating electricity from nuclear power, and for process heat. This interest in smaller nuclear power reactors is driven both by a desire to reduce the impact of capital costs and to provide power away from large grid systems.
An international task force is developing six nuclear reactor technologies for deployment between 2020 and 2030. Four are fast neutron reactors. All six systems represent advances in sustainability, economics, safety, reliability and proliferation-resistance.
A critical issue for accelerating nuclear power plant construction is the availability of heavy engineering plants to make the reactor components, especially for those units of more than 1100 MWe. There has been considerable new investment in major forges and steelmaking lines.