Climate Change

Climate Change / ‘Nuclear Generation Must Triple Globally By 2050’

By David Dalton
21 June 2019

Phased rollout of plant upgrades and construction of new advanced plants is needed, says article
‘Nuclear Generation Must Triple Globally By 2050’
Nuclear energy be expanded to provide at least 25% of the world’s electricity by 2050 as part of a clean and reliable low-carbon mix, but this means nuclear generation must triple globally by 2050, an article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists said.

This, in turn, will require an increase in the construction of new nuclear plants of roughly 1 GW size from the current seven per year to roughly 30.

The nuclear energy industry is sitting at “the nexus of old and new technologies and systems”, the article said. The industry needs to make significant changes or risk becoming irrelevant to the quest of mitigating the impact of climate change. Meeting the goal of launching 30 plants per year, however, does not require new technological advancements.

While building 30 new nuclear plants per year is an ambitious goal, the nuclear industry achieved this level of capacity expansion during the heydays of nuclear power in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the article said.

“It has lost that ability in the past few decades for a variety of reasons, but the new targets are justified by the need to mitigate the climate crisis. We suggest a phased rollout of plant upgrades and construction of new advanced plants.”

The authors said that to meet the goal of building 30 nuclear plants per year, they recommend life extension and licence renewal for existing reactors in the near term, the launch of upgraded Generation III and III+ reactors in the mid-term, and the construction of mostly Generation IV reactors in the long term, depending on their degree of technical maturity.

“This ambitious goal is justified, we believe, by the pressing need to mitigate the climate crisis we face.”

The article was written by Chantell Murphy, a nuclear security postdoctoral Fellow at the Centre for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford, and Vasily Safonov, assistant professor at the National Research Nuclear University MEPhI (Moscow Engineering Physics Institute).

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