Across Asia, demand for electricity is growing, and so is the need for a source to fuel it. Coal, traditionally a primary source of energy in the region, is also a major producer of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, so countries across the region are now turning to nuclear power.
In this article in Science, Gong Yidong and Dennis Normile describe Asia's nuclear boom. Twenty-five nuclear power plants are under construction worldwide. Sixteen of these are in Asia.
China, which has nine nuclear power plants, is the most ambitious in its plans. It aims to add 30 new plants over the next 15 years, at a cost of US$50 billion. India plans to add eight. Both nations will be testing prototypes of a controversial type of reactor that has virtually been abandoned in the West.
The nuclear trend has its critics. Some feel that if power plants spread, so will nuclear weapons; others predict an outcry over potential accidents. For the planners, the trick will be to stay ahead of public opposition.
This week's issue of Science includes a map of the distribution of nuclear plants around the world. The map shows that compared with Asia's 106 reactors, Latin America has six, and the Middle East and Africa just two.