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Policy makers are asking for reviews of safety regulations, publics are expressing concern, and it appears likely that some of the planned construction will be curtailed. The politics of nuclear power is likely to be more contentious even in places where public support has been strong (or irrelevant). As a result, in the coming decade, nuclear power may make less of a contribution to the mitigation of carbon emissions than it otherwise might have, (though even before the current crisis its role in overcoming the climate change challenge was a minor one). 

CHINA: The Fukushima tragedy really gave the Chinese a serious wakeup call on the importance of nuclear safety. Currently, China has 13 reactor units in operation and 28 units under construction. Although the Chinese government quickly claimed China would not change its plan for developing nuclear power projects right after the Fukushima crisis began on 12th March, the latest news shows the Chinese government taking actions to strengthen its nuclear safety at reactors in operation and under construction.

SOUTH KOREA: South Korea, which is currently operating 21 nuclear power plants and constructing 5 more units, is not very likely to change its whole nuclear power policy in response to the unfolding crisis in Japan. Nuclear power is currently supplying almost 40% of national electricity, and there are no viable short- and mid-term alternatives. South Korean President Lee Myung-bak emphasized Korea’s nuclear safety and emergency planning in response to the Japanese nuclear accident.

INDIA: India has 20 functioning nuclear plants—of which only two are aging General Electric Boiling Water Reactors (BWRs) of the type that are in peril in Japan—supplying around 3 percent of the country’s energy needs. But demands for energy are soaring, along with India’s 8 percent annual GDP growth. Trying to overcome its dependence on oil imports, India turned to nuclear power, announcing that 20 GW of nuclear power generating capability would be added by 2020 and 63 GW by 2032. The Japanese tragedy has prompted a renewed focus on nuclear safety, which had been somewhat marginalized until now in the rush to secure India’s entry into the commercial nuclear technology market.

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