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A history of the nuclear power industry in the world

The construction of the world’s first nuclear power plant began in 1950 in the former Soviet Union, near Obninsk village, southwest of Moscow. It was connected to the grid on 27 June 1954. AM-1 reactor had a net capacity of 5 MW, it was a reactor channel type moderated with graphite and cooled with water. The main objective of this project was to verify the adopted concepts that could be used for bulk utilization of the power reactors. In addition to the generation of electricity, the power plant was used to produce isotopes, especially for the medicinal and experimental purposes. The power plant was finally shut down on 29 April 2002. It is now a dedicated museum of the nuclear power industry.

The world’s first commercial nuclear power plant, Calder Hall in Great Britain, was commissioned in 1956 with a capacity of 46 MW.

These events were followed up by years of research, development and construction, which resulted in more than 430 nuclear reactors, which are currently in operation in 30 countries and produce about 15% of world-wide production of the electricity.

At present in the European Union, there are more than 130 nuclear reactors in operation in 15 countries of which contribute 30% of the electricity produced in the EU.

As with most industries, the nuclear power industry was not immune from accidents. The first of which was an accident at Three Mile Island power plant (USA) in 1979. The next serious accident occurred in 1986 on Unit 4 of Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant (USSR) and the last accident in this series of events was the still ongoing disaster on four Units of Fukushima 1, which occurred in 2011 (Japan). It caused by an earthquake and subsequent inundation of tsunami waves.

As a result of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, the need arose for world-wide cooperation in the area of safety of nuclear power installations. Therefore, on 15 May 1989, the World Association of Nuclear Operators was established with a main aim of enhancing the safety of nuclear power installations on a world-wide scale.

At the present, the nuclear power industry is older than a half-century history. It provided wide development possibilities for humankind due to it being a relatively cheap, effective and reliable source of the electricity. From its beginning up to now, nuclear power has its supporters and objectors as well. An initial, almost a mass development, was followed by a partial recession. This recession was caused especially by a negative attitude of public after the Chernobyl accident. The renaissance of the nuclear power begun during the last decade, however, the damaged Units in Japanese Fukushima again gave an occasion to propagate anti-nuclear tendencies.

This accident also caused an increased emphasis on a safety of the nuclear power plants. At present, the nuclear power plants with generation III reactors are starting to be operated. They present a significant and important step towards higher safety and efficiency of nuclear power utilization.