Translations: Chinese, Italian
Release Date: 16 June 2010
This nuclear energy roadmap has been prepared jointly by the IEA and the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA). It finds that one quarter (24%) of global electricity could be generated from nuclear power by 2050, assuming no major technological breakthroughs. This would make nuclear the single largest source of electricity in 2050, with a correspondingly significant contribution to cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
Unlike most 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 over the next few years.
Several countries are reactivating dormant nuclear programmes, while others are considering nuclear for the first time. China in particular is already embarking on a rapid nuclear expansion. In the longer term, there is great potential for new developments in nuclear energy technology to enhance nuclear’s role in a sustainable energy future.
- 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.
Energy Technology Perspectives 2012: