50 Years of Nuclear Power Generation

Berlin, 20.12.2001

It was 50 years ago today that electricity was generated for the first time by using nuclear power. On December 20, 1951, a team of scientist at the National Reactor Testing Station in the US state of Idaho managed to light up four 200-watt light bulbs that were connected to the power lines of a generator. Their energy source was the Experimental Breeder Reactor-I (EBR-I) in which 69 kg of uranium were used as fission material for the generation of heat. From this moment onwards, there was continuing progress being made all over the world in connection with the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Today, nuclear power provides about 16 percent of the world`s electricity production. 437 nuclear power plants are in operation all around the globe, 34 are under construction, and further reactors are planned.

These figures prove that nuclear power will continue to have its place in the energy mix in future, too. In the face of the predicted rising demand in energy and the necessary reduction of carbon dioxide emissions, many countries - some even expressly - put their hopes on nuclear power. The path towards a phase-out of nuclear power use that has been chosen in Germany is a special national solution.

In Germany, the first reactor started operation in Kahl in June 1961. Since 1988, nuclear power has been covering just over a third of the Federal Republic`s electricity supply (in the so-called base load range even more than 50%) and about 10% of the overall energy supply. The 19 operating reactors thus make a major contribution to the country`s safe, cheap and climate-friendly electricity supply.


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