A new IAEA data animation shows that global nuclear power generation will need to significantly expand beyond its historical markets, including in so-called newcomer countries interested in introducing this reliable source of low carbon electricity, if the world is to have a reasonable chance at meeting climate change goals.
The animation is based on the Sustainable Development Scenario in the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook 2019. The hypothetical model presents what the IEA calls “an ambitious and pragmatic vision” for how the global 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.
Currently, some European countries are phasing out nuclear power as growth slows in other traditional markets such as North America while expanding in Asia. Those trends are reflected in the animated scenario, which shows nuclear power generating capacity quadrupling over the next two decades in China, which overtakes North America as the leading nuclear power generator. In newcomer countries as well as some nations that already operate nuclear power in Africa, eastern Europe and South America, nuclear power generating capacity more than doubles in the scenario.
“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.”
Twenty-eight newcomer countries are currently considering introducing nuclear power. Two of these – Belarus and the United Arab Emirates – are nearing operation of their first nuclear power plants, while Bangladesh and Turkey have begun constructing their first nuclear power reactors.
The IAEA supports countries in developing the infrastructure for a safe and secure nuclear power programme. Last week, some 100 participants from 41 IAEA Member States attended the 15th annual Technical Meeting on Topical Issues in the Development of Nuclear Power Infrastructure at the Agency’s headquarters in Vienna, to share good practices and lessons learned in establishing the infrastructure required for a safe and successful nuclear power programme.
☞This scenario assumes the deployment of negative emission technology to remove heat-trapping greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Without such deployment, the scenario is consistent with a 66% chance of limiting the temperature increase to 1.8°C.