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Technology Roadmap: Nuclear Energy

Technology Roadmap: Nuclear Energy
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Edition: 2010
52 pages

Translations: Chinese, Italian

Release Date: 16 June 2010


Unlike many other low-carbon energy sources, nuclear energy is a mature technology that has been in use for more than 50 years. The latest designs for nuclear power plants build on this experience to offer enhanced safety and performance, and are ready for wider deployment. Nuclear power will be an important contributor to a low carbon power mix and can play a significant role in achieving both enhanced energy security and combating climate change. 

The IEA/NEA Nuclear Energy Technology Roadmap (2010) identified major barriers, opportunities, and policy measures for policy makers and industry and financial partners to accelerate RDD&D efforts for various nuclear technologies on both a national and international level. 

2014 Roadmap Update

Significant changes have occurred since the release of the roadmap in 2010 and IEA/NEA have begun work on an update to be completed in 2014.  The update, which will be a stand alone document replacing the 2010 edition will focus on the following considerations:

  • Nuclear post Fukushima
  • Impact of global economic crisis on nuclear and the economics of nuclear with tightened safety requirements
  • Updated ETP 2DS vision
  • Nuclear energy’s role for energy security, climate change and resource efficiency
  • What technological changes are needed to address improved safety?

Key Findings

  • This roadmap targets installed nuclear capacity reaching 1,200 GW in 2050, with annual electricity production of nearly 10,000 TWh. This would represent around 24% of electricity generated worldwide, making nuclear the single largest source of electricity.
  • The 2050 target for nuclear energy deployment does not require major technological breakthroughs, although further development will help maintain nuclear’s competitiveness.
  • Political support and public acceptance are key requirements for the implementation of nuclear energy programmes, with a clear and stable commitment to nuclear energy in national energy policy.
  • 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.
  • There is an urgent need to strengthen the nuclear workforce to meet future demands, by investing in education and training.
  • Industrial capacities for constructing nuclear power plants will need to increase substantially. Uranium production and fuel cycle capacities will also need to grow.
  • The management and disposal of radioactive wastes is an essential component of all nuclear programmes. Progress needs to be made in building and operating facilities for the disposal of high-level wastes.
  • The international system of safeguards on sensitive nuclear materials and technologies must be maintained and strengthened where necessary.
  • Advanced nuclear technologies, now under development, potentially offer advantages over current technologies. The first of these could be ready for commercial deployment after 2030, although they are not expected to form a large part of nuclear capacity by 2050.


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