IEA urges support for nuclear

11 November 2015

In its World Energy Outlook 2015 report, published on 10 November, the International Energy Agency (IEA) says governments that want to deploy nuclear power must recognise the security of supply, reliability and predictability that nuclear power offer.

Key conditions for the faster deployment of nuclear power include the promotion of incentives for all types of low-carbon solutions to provide financing certainty for investment.

The report says the power sector is "leading the charge to decarbonise" the planet over the next 25 years, helped by increased electricity generation from nuclear, renewables and "more efficient thermal plants". It adds: "Despite both more costly technologies and rising fossil-fuel prices, electricity is set to become more affordable, relative to gross domestic product, in most regions."

"With more generation from renewables energy and nuclear power, and more efficient thermal plants, CO2 emissions from power generation are set to grow at only one-fifth of the rate at which power output rises to 2040," the report notes. "This was a one-to-one relationship over the last 25 years." According to the IEA, electricity "gains ground in many end-use sectors, making up almost a quarter of final energy consumption by 2040 (and) the power sector leads the way towards a decarbonised energy system."

The report says that in 2014, 72GWe of nuclear capacity were under construction. Three projects began construction in 2014, down from 10 in 2013. Almost 40 countries are considering developing their first nuclear power plants, while three have committed to phasing out nuclear power.

IEA predicts that nuclear generation worldwide will increase from 11% in 2013 to 12% in 2040 under its New Policies scenario. This takes into account programmes to support renewable energy and improvements to energy efficiency, to promote alternative fuels and vehicles, carbon pricing, reform of energy subsidies, and the introduction, expansion or phaseout of nuclear power.

Coal will fall from 41% to 30%, and gas will increase from 22% to 23%. Renewables continue to expand rapidly, collectively becoming the largest source of electricity supply by the early-2030s and going on to account for more than one-third of the world's electricity supply in 2040.This is led by wind power, followed by hydropower and then solar PV. Hydropower accounts for around 46% of all renewables-based electricity generation in 2040, down from 74% in 2013.

In the IEA's 450 Scenario, the outlook for all forms of low-carbon energy, including renewables, nuclear power and carbon capture and storage is more positive and they collectively meet 46% of primary energy demand by 2040. The 450 Scenario sets out a "pathway" consistent with the goal of limiting the global increase in temperature to two degrees Celsius by maintaining the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere at no more than around 450 parts per million of CO2. Under this scenario, investment in nuclear power generation is around 65% higher than in the Current Policies Scenario ( in which government energy and energy investment policies remain unchanged), but it remains concentrated in a relatively small number of markets.

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