Nuclear investment to increase, says IPCC

14 April 2014

Investment in nuclear energy is likely to increase significantly in the period to 2030 as a source of low-carbon electricity, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) has concluded. It said nuclear investment will rise at half the rate of renewables investment, and both must come a far second to increased investment in energy efficiency.

In a landmark report released on 13 April, the IPCC said that to stabilise climate change, the share of low-carbon electricity supply (comprising renewable energy, nuclear and CCS) must increase from its current share of approximately 30% to more than 80% of the total by 2050, and fossil fuel power generation without CCS must be phased out almost entirely by 2100, the UN's.

The panel described nuclear power as a "mature low-GHG emission source of baseload power," but noted that its share of global generation declining. It said, "Nuclear energy could make an increasing contribution to low-carbon energy supply, but a variety of barriers and risks exist," listing operational risks, uranium mining risks, financial and regulatory risks, unresolved waste management issues, nuclear weapon proliferation concerns, and adverse public opinion as among the barriers.

Nevertheless, the IPCC considered that investment flow into nuclear was likely to increase in the years to 2030. The panel thought with a fairly high degree of confidence that investment in nuclear would increase by $50 billion per year on levels in 2010 - similar to increased investment in fossil fuel plants with carbon capture and storage. The mean increase in renewables investment was likely to be nearly double that of nuclear and CCS - around $95 billion per year to 2030.

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