IEA And NEA Map Out Nuclear Future

The International Energy Agency and the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development's Nuclear Energy Agency said in a comprehensive report that the nuclear power industry should play a critical role in ensuring the world's nations hit a collective global target of 3.6 degree Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) of warming or less by 2050.

The report released Thursday titled, “Technology Roadmap: Nuclear Energy 2015 Update,” said that nuclear plant construction hit a 25-year high in 2014, even though the industry is facing significant setbacks in Europe, the United States and Japan. But it also envisions doubling the world's nuclear capacity to provide a stable source of power that could replace carbon emissions producing coal-burning power stations.

There are 72 nuclear power plants under construction around the world currently, which is “the greatest number of reactors being built in 25 years,” IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven said in a statement. Van der Hoeven said nuclear power was the second largest source of low carbon electricity and should be a “critical” part of the globe's energy needs.

While some countries are backpedaling on nuclear power, many nations are just entering the market or increasing their nuclear capacities – most notably China, which is set to climb from 17 gigawatt nuclear capacity to 58 gigawatt by 2020.

The authors of the report envisioned a hypothetical road map that has the world's nuclear capacity climb from 377 GWe to 930 GWe, producing 17 percent of the world's electricity.

The report called on governments to support the industry with stable policies that companies could rely on in order to ensure construction of new reactors would be completed on time and on budget. It also envisioned government support for small modular reactors that would provide safe, clean power to smaller markets or to isolated locations.

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