Cutting nuclear increases fossil fuel use

A reduction in global nuclear energy generation would have a major effect on climate change, as well as energy security and the global economy, according to the new ‘World Energy […]

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By Tom Gibson

A reduction in global nuclear energy generation would have a major effect on climate change, as well as energy security and the global economy, according to the new ‘World Energy Outlook’ report from the International Energy Agency.

After the Fukushima disaster last March several countries have turned their backs on nuclear, which raised more questions about its position in the future energy landscape. Speaking to journalists today in London Dr Fatih Birol, Chief Economist at the IEA said the body had studied a ‘low nuclear case’, which imagined what would happen if the anticipated contribution of nuclear to future energy supply were to be halved.

Dr Birol said the effect of such a policy would damage our climate: “There would be a boost to renewables, but also big growth in fossil fuels too. Power sector CO2 emissions would increase by 6.2% and there would be bigger implications for countries with limited energy resources without nuclear.”

The IEA say the increase in global coal demand would be equal to Australia’s current coal exports. Rising fossil fuel usage would come about because of the intermittency and cost of renewables.