Nuclear Power-Free Countries

The growing list of countries pledging to phase out nuclear power:

  • Belgium
  • Denmark
  • Japan
  • Germany
  • Scotland (100% renewable by 2020)
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland

Countries which are no longer nuclear powered, or never were and have pledged to stay to that way:

  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belize
  • Cambodia
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Greece
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Nepal
  • New Zealand
  • Peru

2 thoughts on “Nuclear Power-Free Countries

  1. I’m sure there are more but here are the bigger ones.

    In light of the situation at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi plant, more people are rethinking their relationships to nuclear power. Even though only around 30 of the world’s 200-odd countries are currently operating nuclear power plants, it turns out that most people in the world either live in those countries or live in countries bordering those countries.

    So where does a person go to be as far away from the potential of nuclear accidents as possible? We have 8 of the better candidates below, most of which should remain out of the potential danger zone for decades to come, or longer.

    1 – Australia

    Geographically speaking, Australia is by far the largest country with no nuclear power plants or plans to build them. Its otherwise-remote location also puts it well away from most countries with high concentrations of power plants. Australia’s location thousands of kilometers due south of Japan may cause concern for some, but the prevailing winds never go in that direction, so it would appear to be one of the safest places on earth.

    On the other hand, Australia is home to nearly a quarter of the world’s uranium deposits and mines. The primary reason the country has no reactors is that its coal and natural gas reserves are among its greatest resources, so the need for additional power is absent.

    2 – New Zealand

    While there has been some recent discussions of constructing one or more nuclear power plants in New Zealand, there are currently no firm plans, and the country seems to be generally against it. They currently get more than 50% of their electricity from hydroelectric plants, so they are already fairly “green.”

    This makes New Zealand, whose only close upwind neighbor is the nuclear-free Australia, the most remote country on earth regarding possible fallout from a nuclear accident. Sure, you could choose an island in the South Pacific that has even fewer neighbors, but it would almost certainly be closer to the main jet stream that could catch winds from nuclear countries near the equator or in the north.

    3 – Colombia

    Not only is Colombia suddenly a trendy (and cheap) destination for travelers, it could become desirable for those who want to get as far away from nuclear plants as well. There are currently only four reactors in all of South America (two in Brazil and two in Argentina) and none in Central America at all.

    Colombia is the world’s fifth largest coal producer, which seems incentive enough to keep the lights on by burning fossil fuels rather than building expensive nuclear reactors, so the longer-term outlook seems good for the no-nukes crowd.

    4 – Cambodia

    Those looking for a very cheap country might be happy in Cambodia, which has a busy expat community in its capital of Phnom Penh, plus smaller communities in peaceful Siem Reap and the beach resort of Sihanoukville. There are early discussions of building nuclear plants, but even if those go forward it would likely be nearly 20 years before they’d be online.

    Neighboring Vietnam is planning to start building one plant in 2014, and Thailand has 4 plants in their future, so the area might not be so nuclear free in 10 years or so. But for now, Cambodia is about as good as things get in this region, especially for potential expats who aren’t drawn to Thailand for other reasons.

    5 – Costa Rica

    At the moment, the entirety of Central America is nuclear reactor-free, with only two plants in Mexico to possibly cause concern. Better still for the green types, Costa Rica has no military bases, and over 25% of the country’s land is set aside for national parks.

    Costa Rica also gets 90% of its electricity from its 12 hydroelectric plants and some newer wind farms, making it efficient enough to even export electricity to some of its Central American neighbors. It’s no wonder that real estate prices in Costa Rica are holding up relatively well.

    6 – Belize

    Being a major favorite among expats, it’s worth noting that Belize also has no nuclear power plants, nor any realistic way of ever getting one. This small country and its population of a bit over 300,000 are priced out of the nuclear debate, along with most of its other Central American neighbors.

    Unlike Costa Rica, Belize isn’t quite so green, with nearly all of its electricity coming from imported fossil fuels. Still, life is easy, the scenery is beautiful, and at least there won’t be a meltdown in your backyard here.

    7 – Nepal

    Even though it’s surrounded by countries with nuclear power plants, Nepal itself is nuke-free, and likely to stay that way indefinitely. It’s true that an accident nearby could happen, but most people live in valleys between the awesomely tall peaks of the Himalayas, so there’s no telling exactly what would happen to the fallout.

    Nearly all of Nepal’s power is supplied by hydroelectric plants, which sounds nice until you actually visit there during the dry season (October through May) when the levels in the rivers eventually dip so low that there are national rolling blackouts lasting up to 14 hours per day in the depths of winter.

    8 – Peru

    Another lovely country with no nuclear power plants nor any current plans to build them, Peru also benefits from its only two nuclear neighbors (Brazil and Argentina) being downwind from them. With few other nuclear power plants in their part of the Southern Hemisphere, this would appear to be one of the safer countries in the event of an accident.

    Peru currently gets most of its electricity from its hydroelectric plants and its natural gas reserves, with plenty of yet untapped potential for both, so there appears to be almost no appetite for building expensive nuclear reactors anytime in the future.

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