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Global Electricity May Worsen Over Nuclear Projects Uncertainty – IEA



The International Energy Agency (IEA), has warned of uncertainties facing nuclear power development in many countries, saying the world risks a steep decline in its use in advanced economies that could result in billions of tonnes of additional carbon emissions.

Nuclear energy  is the second-largest low-carbon power source in the world today, accounting for 10 per cent of global electricity generation and is second only to hydropower at 16 per cent.

For advanced economies including the US, Canada, EU states and Japan, nuclear energy has been the biggest low-carbon source of electricity for more than 30 years and remains so today and plays an important role in electricity security in several countries.

However, the future of nuclear power is uncertain as ageing plants are beginning to close in advanced economies, partly because of policies to phase them out but also as a result of economic and regulatory factors.

Without policy changes, advanced economies could lose 25 per cent of their nuclear capacity by 2025 and as much as two-thirds of it by 2040, according to the new IEA report, Nuclear Power in a Clean Energy System.

“Without an important contribution from nuclear power, the global energy transition will be that much harder,” said Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s executive director.

“Alongside renewables, energy efficiency and other innovative technologies, nuclear can make a significant contribution to achieving sustainable energy goals and enhancing energy security. But unless the barriers it faces are overcome, its role will soon be on a steep decline worldwide, particularly in the US, Europe and Japan,” he added.

The lack of further lifetime extensions of existing nuclear plants and new projects could result in an additional 4 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions. Some countries have opted out of nuclear power in light of concerns about safety and other issues.

Many others, however, still see a role for nuclear in their energy transitions but are not doing enough to meet their goals, according to the report.

With its mission to cover all fuels and technologies, the IEA hopes that the publication of its first report addressing nuclear power in nearly two decades would help bring the topic back into the global energy debate.