Agneta Rising, Director General of the World Nuclear Association, speaking at the International New York Times Energy for Tomorrow conference in Paris on December 9, said; “The nuclear industry stands ready to deliver more to help tackle climate change. Nuclear generation could provide 25% of the world’s electricity with low carbon generation by having 1000 gigawatts of new build by 2050.”
Speaking at the same event Fatih Birol, Executive Director, International Energy Agency, said that if governments are serious about nuclear they should find the right frameworks for investors, because of the challenges of large investments in liberalised markets.
The IEA’s Two Degree Scenario requires a major shift to low carbon generation by the middle of this century to prevent dangerous climate change. This scenario includes 18% of global electricity being supplied by nuclear energy by 2050, the largest contribution from any low carbon option. To reach this target global nuclear capacity would need to more than double.
Rising said, “Sixty-five reactors are currently under construction around the world, the highest number for 25 years. However rates of nuclear construction are not yet high enough to meet the expansion required to hit the IEA target. To grow faster nuclear will need markets with level playing fields, harmonised regulatory processes and an effective safety paradigm.”
Rising noted that nuclear energy is the second largest low carbon electricity source in the world. In Europe it is the largest with 27%. However, Rising said that nuclear is taken for granted by governments that fail to communicate about it. This silence on nuclear energy in discussions on climate change is misleading the public.
Rising said that support was needed both for current proven nuclear plant and new nuclear technologies.
Rising said, “We need to invest into development of smaller reactors that are more flexible in terms of where they can be deployed, better able to work in partnership with intermittent renewables, able to burn used fuel to reduce wastes and have the potential to be more economic.”