Nuclear power is likely to continue to play a key role in the global low carbon energy mix.
That’s the suggestion from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which says the divisive form of energy generation could help match electricity consumption growth, improve air quality, guarantee the security of energy supply and protect against the price volatility of other fuels if it was more widely adopted as the world’s energy systems move towards decarbonisation.
Under a high-case scenario, the IAEA predicts an increase of global nuclear electrical generating capacity by 82% to 715GW – at the same time, global electricity generation is expected to more than double, meaning the share of nuclear power amongst all sources of electricity would be likely to either remain stable or decline from current figures – in 2019, nuclear power generated 10.4% of global electricity.
In the report’s low-case scenario, global nuclear electrical generating capacity is forecast to fall by 7% to 392GW, which could see its share of nuclear energy relative to global electricity production drop to roughly 6%.
The analysts working on the study say “immediate and concerted action” is required for nuclear power to reach the high-case scenario’s share of 11% in electricity production by 2050 – the low case scenario could see the share of nuclear energy relative to global electricity production fall to approximately 6%.
The report stresses to avoid this happening, there is a need for significant new nuclear capacity to offset approaching retirements, which must be driven by supportive energy policies and market designs to facilitate investment.
IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said: “The latest IAEA annual projections show that nuclear power will continue to play a key role in the world’s low-carbon energy mix, with global nuclear electrical capacity seen nearly doubling by 2050 in our high case scenario. Climate change mitigation remains a key potential driver for maintaining and expanding the use of nuclear power.”
Hitachi has scrapped plans to build the Wylfa Newydd nuclear power plant in the UK.