Arguably the world’s most respected energy authority, the International Energy Agency, said Tuesday that the aging of nuclear power fleets in Europe and the United States threatened to derail global climate change goals and upend energy security.
The IEA said that global power faced “an uncertain future in many countries,” which “risks a steep decline in its use in advanced countries.” In the opening paragraph to its statement, the IEA said this “could result in billions of tonnes of additional carbon emissions,” to the atmosphere, accelerating global warming.
Nuclear power is the second largest source of carbon-free energy in the world after hydropower. It accounts foe 10 percent of global electricity generation, after hydropower, which produces 16 percent. However, in some key locations, including the United States, Canada, the European Union and Japan, nuclear has been the largest carbon-free source of electricity for the past 30 years.
That said, “without policy changes, advanced economies could lose 25 percdent of their nuclear capacity by 2025 and as much as two-thirds of it by 2040,” the agency said, taking figures from a new report, Nuclear Power in a Clean Energy System.
The study points to the potential addition of 4 billion metric tons of CO2 emissions as a result of the slide in nuclear power for electricity generation in those years.
“Alongside renewables, energy efficiency and other innovative technologies, nuclear can make a significant contribution to achieving sustainable energy goals and enhancing energy security. But unless the barriers it faces are overcome, its role will soon be on a steep decline worldwide, particularly in the United States, Europe and Japan,” said Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s Executive Director.
The full report will be released during the 10th Clean Energy Ministerial in Vancouver, Canada. It is the first major report on nuclear power produced by the IEA in nearly two decades.
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