29 Jan (NucNet): Global nuclear capacity must more than double by 2050, with nuclear supplying 17 percent of the world’s electricity generation, to meet the International Energy Agency ‘2 Degree Scenario’ for the most effective and efficient means of limiting global temperature rise to the internationally agreed maximum, a roadmap written by the IEA and the Nuclear Energy Agency says.
“This level of nuclear energy deployment will not require major technological breakthroughs,” the roadmap says. “The obstacles to more rapid nuclear growth in the short to medium term are primarily policy-related, industrial and financial.
“However, continuous development of reactor and fuel cycle technologies will be important if nuclear energy is to achieve its full potential in competition with other low-carbon energy sources.”
Even if a limited number of countries have decided to phase out nuclear power, many more have set ambitious development programmes, the roadmap says. For example, China plans to have a net 58 gigawatt (GW) in nuclear capacity by 2020, up from 17 GW in 2014, with a further 30 GW under construction then. But under the 2 Degree Scenario, total nuclear capacity should be 250 GW in 2050.
The roadmap outlines the next steps for growth in the nuclear industry in the aftermath of the Fukushima-Daiichi accident in Japan and the economic crisis and its effect on financing.
It says prospects for nuclear energy remain positive in the medium to long-term, despite a negative impact in some countries in the aftermath of the accident.
While nuclear’s share of global electricity generation was 10 percent lower in 2013 than in 2010, principally because of Japan’s 48 commercially operational reactors remaining idle, it is still the second-largest source worldwide of low-carbon electricity. And the 72 reactors under construction at the start of last year were the most in 25 years, the roadmap says.
Financing the very large investments needed to build nuclear power plants will be a major challenge in many countries and in some cases governments will need to take a role in addressing this, the roadmap says.
There is an “urgent need” to strengthen the nuclear workforce to meet future demands, by investing in education and training.
The roadmap highlights the need for stable, long-term investment frameworks to allow capital-intensive low carbon projects, such as nuclear power plants, to be developed. It also emphasises the need for greater certainty in electricity prices, including the cost of carbon emissions.
In a review of European energy policies released in December 2014, the IEA said appropriate incentives should be used to maintain the nuclear option as part of the EU’s energy supply and immediate decisions need to be taken regarding the ageing of the EU’s reactor fleet.