While studying my MBA at INSEAD, I'm having the opportunity to learn about the nuclear energy program in France. Even though the United States has the largest number of nuclear power plants, France derives the largest portion of electricity from nuclear power in the world, at about 75%. France has a long-standing policy for energy security and even recycles their nuclear fuel for greater efficiency.
France is the world's largest net exporter of electricity due to its very low cost of generation, and gains over 3 billion euro per year from this. Meanwhile, the neighboring country of Germany is shutting down its nuclear power program mainly due to public opposition, and is now, ironically, importing (nuclear) electricity from France.
It's interesting to see people's reactions here in France when I tell them that I'm a nuclear engineer, as compared to other countries. The French respect nuclear energy and are very positive about the technology and what it can provide. The positive public opinion is largely due to education. Young students learn about nuclear energy as part of their regular curriculum, as evidenced by my classmate Claire-Elise who grew up in France:
"Along with most other french students, my whole high school class went on a field trip to a nuclear power plant. The tour included seeing where the reactors were, hearing about all the safety mechanisms and speaking with employees of the plant. I think that for most of us it removed the 'fear of the unknown' factor in evaluating the merits of nuclear power."