Long-Term potential of Nuclear Power remains high: IAEA Report
The world’s installed nuclear power capacity could increase by 123 percent in 2050 compared to current 2016 level, says a new report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
The long-term potential of nuclear power remains high, according to the latest IAEA report, titled International Status and Prospects for Nuclear Power 2017, which analyses the factors that could influence the future of nuclear power. Although the global expansion of nuclear energy is projected to slow down in coming years.
IAEA’s forecasts for global installed nuclear power capacity in the high case indicate an increase from 2016 levels by 42% in 2030, by 83% in 2040 and by 123% in 2050. While the low case projects a dip in capacity of -12% in 2030 and -15% in 2040 before rebounding to present levels in 2050.
The main factors that will influence the future of nuclear energy are safety, funding and financing, public acceptance, nuclear policies, electricity markets and innovation.
As global electricity demand growth continue driven by emerging economies, presently 28 countries are interested in introducing nuclear power. Of the 30 countries already operating nuclear power plants, 13 are either constructing new ones or are actively completing previously suspended construction projects, and 16 have plans or proposals for building new reactors.
Nuclear power and climate change
Nuclear power, as a low carbon technology, has significant potential to contribute to efforts to address the climate challenge, the report notes. “A major shift of energy investments from fossil fuels towards low carbon technologies was observed in 2015 and 2016. However, although investments in nuclear power generation reached $21 billion in 2015, $221 billion were invested in energy efficiency initiatives and $313 billion in renewables” it said.
If nuclear power’s potential as a low-carbon energy source grows in recognition and advanced reactor designs further improve both safety and radioactive waste management, the use of nuclear power could grow significantly, the report says.
“In some countries, concerns about climate change provide an incentive to support continued operation of nuclear power plants, or are part of the argument for a new build programme,” said Mikhail Chudakov, Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Energy.
“Over time advanced technologies may become commercially available for consideration as part of a low carbon energy mix. More than 30 advanced water cooled reactors are already under construction worldwide. In the meantime, and in light of increased demand for clean energy, maintaining an operating fleet is necessary in order to bridge the gap between existing and next-generation technologies.”