Nuclear to play significant role in IEA’s climate strategy

Jun 18, 2015

The International Energy Agency (IEA) published on 15 June 2015 a new study, World Energy Outlook Special Report on Energy and Climate Change, in which it outlines its strategy for the world to limit global warming to 2°C. The use of low-carbon energies including renewables and nuclear must sharply increase while oil and gas production must decrease for the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to peak by 2020.

The IEA defines four pillars, which are: to set the conditions for energy-related emissions to peak by 2020; to review national climate contributions regularly; to translate the national or regional climate goals into a collective long-term emissions goal; and to establish an effective process for tracking achievements in the energy sector. To do so, the IEA recommends a series of measures including increasing energy efficiency, reducing the use of inefficient coal-fired power plants, increasing investment in renewables, reducing methane emissions, and phasing out fossil fuels subsidies.

The role of nuclear energy is also highlighted in the study. The IEA recalls that nuclear power is the second-biggest source of low-carbon electricity worldwide after hydropower and that the use of nuclear energy has avoided the release of 56Gt of CO2 since 1971, equivalent to almost two years of global emissions at current rates.

Nuclear energy will play an important role in the IEA climate strategy in order to reduce GHG emissions. Nuclear capacity should reach 540GW (392GW currently) in 2030 and the share of nuclear energy in power generation should increase to 13% in 2030, two percentage points over today’s level. This means that demand for nuclear energy is foreseen to more than double by 2030.

Most of the new nuclear plants are expected to be built in countries with regulated electricity prices or where utilities are state-owned or governments act to facilitate private investment. For instance China had 28 GW of new nuclear power capacity under construction at the end of last year and could have more nuclear capacity than the current global leader, the USA, by 2030, according to the report.

Nuclear currently provides 53% of EU’s low-carbon electricity and is therefore the largest source of low-carbon electricity in the EU.

For further information, please read the World Energy Outlook Special Report on Energy and Climate Change and FORATOM infographics on climate change.

Note to the editors: FORATOM is involved in the Nuclear for Climate initiative, which brings together 60 regional and national nuclear associations. The goal of this initiative is to fuel the debate about how to fight climate change and to raise awareness among decision-makers and the general public of the undeniable climate change benefits of nuclear.

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