In light of rising energy prices and the need to meet climate targets, nuclear energy is once again experiencing a renaissance. The Russian invasion of Ukraine and the concerns over the security of supply reinforced this trend, even though Russia is an important supplier of fuel and technology for the global nuclear industry. These current developments have a major impact on the expansion of nuclear capacities or the development of nuclear technologies in the region – for instance, Belgium backtracked its decision to phase out of nuclear, and Netherlands declared that it will increase its nuclear capacities.
This document provides a detailed overview, country by country, of the state of play of nuclear energy for countries in Europe, Northern America and Central Asia. It details the role of nuclear in the national energy mix and in the country’s climate strategy and explains the latest developments in the nuclear sector – whether a phase-out of nuclear energy is planned, if new reactors are under construction, and if the country invests in new technologies like the small modular reactors (SMR).
This article is part of our Nuclear Energy Series: Energizing the Debate.
In Europe, Northern America and Central Asia, most countries use nuclear energy – 56% of the countries in our overview, which represents 22 out of 39 countries. It’s worth noting that most of the power plants use fuel either from the American company Westinghouse or from the Russian company TVEL, explained by historical reasons. Most of the countries from the post-Soviet space are still heavily dependent on the Russian nuclear industry – like Hungary, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Romania, Slovakia, Czechia and Slovenia.
France, Slovakia, Hungary, Sweden, Switzerland and Belgium rely the most on nuclear energy in their energy mix. On the contrary, Netherlands, Italy and Germany are the ones that use the least nuclear energy among those that use nuclear.
Among the countries that do not use nuclear energy, we can name Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Ireland, Poland, Portugal, Norway, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. However, Poland and Azerbaijan expressed their intention to build nuclear power plants in the near future.
Germany, Switzerland and Spain are planning to phase out nuclear energy. Germany will phase it out in 2022 and Spain in 2035, whereas Switzerland has not mentioned any date.
Finally, the Russian invasion of Ukraine changed the dynamics in Europe, as some countries with nuclear capacity are using nuclear energy to cut their dependency on Russian oil and gas. For example, Belgium announced it would backtrack its decision to phase out nuclear energy, while the Netherlands and Bulgaria declared that they will increase their nuclear capacities. On the other hand, Germany confirmed its phase out of nuclear power by the end of 2022.
Andrii Makarenko is Policy Advisor at FES Just Climate. Previously, he was project coordinator at the FES Regional Office “Dialogue Eastern Europe” and was responsible for the projects on civil society dialogue, social-ecological transformation and trainings for progressive young leaders in the countries of Eastern Partnership. He has a master degree in political science. He is currently based in Kyiv, Ukraine.
Clara Dassonville is the Press & Communications officer at FES Just Climate. She is specialized in political communications and climate journalism. Previously, she was in the Press Office of the Council of the European Union and in the Editorial & Communications team of the Green European Foundation. She is educated in political science and European studies at the College of Europe and at the Sorbonne.
Thies Siemen was a trainee at the FES Competence Centre for Climate and Social Justice. He has completed his Law studies at Ludwigs-Maximillians-University of Munich with a specialization in Public International Law and European Law. Prior to joining the FES Team, Thies worked at the German Parliament.
The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) is a non-profit German foundation funded by the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany, and headquartered in Bonn and Berlin. It was founded in 1925 and is named after Germany's first democratically elected President, Friedrich Ebert. FES is committed to the advancement of both socio-political and economic development in the spirit of social democracy, through civic education, research, and international cooperation. Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung is the oldest political foundation in Germany.