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Where are all the nuclear power plants?

At Nature blogs, Declan Butler has put together a really info-dense mapping of the world’s nuclear power plants, using Google Earth. Nifty stuff for anybody whose interest in nuclear power has gone up significantly in recent weeks…

Here’s a quick summary of what the map shows:

1. All the world’s nuclear power plants are depicted on the map as circles. Their names appear in yellow on browseover, with the size of the circle proportional to their total MW electricity output. I calculated the MW output by summing that of the plant’s operational reactors, plus that of those already under construction.

2. Where it gets more interesting is that if you zoom in and then click on a power plant, its circular symbol will open up to show each individual reactor at the plant, with the colour of the circle of each reactor depicting its design (for example, “boiling water reactor”). Then clicking on any reactor will bring up an information panel, giving the reactor’s basic technical details, and where available a photograph of the plant, as well as links to recent news stories about the plant.

A major advantage of Google Earth is that it is also easy to overlay other layers of data on top of this base map of nuclear power plants and reactors, so (time permitting) I could envisage, for example, adding such relevant geographical layers as datasets on population density, past significant earthquakes and tsunamis, as well as seismic risk. Let me know what sort of data you would like to see added as supplementary layers.

I can see one useful idea, right off the bat. Butler includes capacity of each plant, in megawatts. But it would be nice to also have some information that would give people a sense of what the capacity really means. If the data is available, it would also be interesting to see what the capacity factors of these plants were—i.e., how much energy they actually produce vs. how much they’re rated as being capable of producing.


via Boing Boing