Making the case for nuclear in the energy mix

6 November 2019

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Jonathan Cobb

Senior Communication Manager

World Nuclear Association

Global electricity demand is rising. Nearly a billion people lack access to electricity. Two billion more people will need electricity by 2050 as the global population expands.

It is fortunate then, that electricity is one of the few cornerstones of modern life where the practicality of a low carbon future has been demonstrated on a major scale. For it is clear, rapid and deep decarbonisation is the path we must follow.

Decarbonization is the new driver for growth in demand for electricity. Switching transport, heating and industrial processes from direct fossil fuel use to electricity will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, provided low-carbon sources are used to generate it.

Clear too is that meeting the energy and environmental goals for electricity will be far harder without nuclear, and even if it were possible it would be far more expensive.

The IEA’s report “Nuclear Power in a Clean Energy System”, launched in May this year, identified that a failure to invest in existing and new nuclear plant in advanced economies would have implications for emissions, for costs and for energy security.

Also this year, the World Energy Council concluded that nuclear energy is one of the most cost-effective sources of energy in many countries and that nuclear energy contributes to clean, low-carbon energy system stability, and this is not currently valued and compensated for.

For the period 2016-2020, the global nuclear industry is on track to double the rate of construction of nuclear plants compared to the average rate achieved over the previous 20 years. But that build rate will need to triple again to meet the industry’s own Harmony goal of meeting 25% of global electricity demand before 2050. This is a practical goal, requiring an average build rate equal to that achieved during the mid-1980s.

But to meet the Harmony goal will require action to ensure a level playing field in electricity markets, harmonized regulatory practices and an effective safety paradigm. If these changes are made then the nuclear industry can play a key part in delivering a sustainable future for people and the planet.