Agency report highlights urgency of new fleet builds and plant life extensions

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has published a key report Nuclear Power and Secure Energy Transitions confirming the critical role of nuclear power in making the shift from fossil fuels “faster and more secure.”

The report found that

  • Global nuclear capacity must double to 812 GW by 2050 in a Net Zero scenario
  • “Extending nuclear plants’ lifetimes is an indispensable part of a cost-effective path to net zero by 2050.”
  • “Less nuclear power would make net zero ambitions harder and more expensive.”

In a Net Zero scenario, global annual investment in nuclear would be $100 billion per year by 2030, but without new construction and life extensions, plant retirements will see nuclear’s share of global electricity fall from 10% today to 3% in 2050.

The IEA had previously found that extending the operating life of existing reactors is the lowest cost method of securing additional low-carbon electricity generation.

The IEA further observes that advanced economies have lost market leadership in nuclear energy to Russia and China, but that “finalising designs before starting construction, sticking with the same design for subsequent units, and building multiple units at the same site” would help cut costs and deployment times.

Reacting to the report, Chief Executive of the Nuclear Industry Association Tom Greatrex said:

“This report shows that we need to build fleets of new reactors and get the most of our existing stations to hit net zero with our energy security intact. Here in the UK, that means green labelling nuclear in the upcoming taxonomy, getting on with Sizewell C, and mobilising investment in other large and small-scale projects as soon as possible.

“We should aim to restore UK and G7 market leadership in nuclear, and make our sovereign industrial capabilities once again the envy of the world.”

 Notes to editors

  • The IEA’s report Nuclear Power and Secure Energy Transitions: From Today’s Challenges to Tomorrow’s Clean Energy Systems along with extensive supporting material, is available here:
  • The UK has six generating (6.9 GW) nuclear power stations, providing around 16% of the country’s electricity. Three stations (3.2 GW) will retire by March 2024, and all but one station will retire by 2028.
  • The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) confirms that nuclear has the lowest lifecycle carbon of all technologies and the lowest land use and lowest mineral and metal use of all low carbon technologies.

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Lincoln Hill

Director of Policy and External Affairs

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