IAEA data animation shows nuclear to be key to combatting climate change

11 February 2020

A new animation from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) shows that global nuclear generation will need to significantly expand beyond its historical markets if the world is to have a reasonable chance at meeting climate change goals.

The chart was developed with Flourish software. The animation is based on the Sustainable Development Scenario in the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook 2019.

The model presents what the IEA calls “an ambitious and pragmatic vision” for how the energy sector could develop to achieve the energy-related Sustainable Development Goals. It is consistent with a 50% chance of limiting the global temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels by 2050, in line with the Paris Agreement’s efforts.

Some European countries are currently phasing out nuclear power as growth slows in other traditional markets such as North America, but it is expanding in Asia.

These trends are reflected in the animated scenario, which shows nuclear power generating capacity quadrupling over the next two decades in China, overtaking North America as the top nuclear power generator.

In newcomer countries, as well as some nations that already operate nuclear power in Africa, eastern Europe and South America, the scenario shows nuclear power generating capacity more than doubling.

This scenario assumes the deployment of negative-emission technology to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Without such implementation, the scenario is consistent with a 66% chance of limiting the temperature increase to 1.8°C.

“Newcomer countries have a key role to play in the global transition to clean energy,” said Milko Kovachev, Head of the IAEA’s Nuclear Infrastructure Development Section. “They need low carbon energy both to power economic growth and to meet climate goals —the scenario that gets them there includes more nuclear power.”

IAEA says 28 newcomer countries are currently considering introducing nuclear power. Two of these – Belarus and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are nearing operation of their first nuclear power plants. Bangladesh and Turkey have also started constructing their first nuclear power reactors.

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