Doubtless with the intention of influencing some of the many nuclear agnostics expected at next week’s COP26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, the International Atomic Energy Agency last week released Nuclear Energy for a Net Zero World.
According to the 73-page report, nuclear power is key to achieving the goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by ensuring a 24/7 energy supply, which provides stability and resilience to electrical grids and facilitates the wider integration of variable renewables, such as wind and solar, needed to drive the clean energy transition.
In addition, the report says, nuclear energy as a firm source of low-carbon electricity is well suited to replace coal and other fossil fuels while also providing heat and hydrogen to decarbonize hard-to-abate sectors, such as industry and transportation, making it one of the most effective investments for the post-pandemic global economic recovery.
Recommendations: The publication calls for a series of actions aimed at accelerating the wider deployment of nuclear:
- Introduce carbon pricing and measures to value low-carbon energy.
- Adopt objective and technology-neutral frameworks for low-carbon investments.
- Ensure that markets, regulations, and policies value and remunerate nuclear energy’s contribution to reliable and resilient low-carbon energy systems.
- Boost public investment and support private investment in nuclear energy, including reactor lifetime extensions, as part of “green deal” and recovery packages.
- Promote diversified electricity systems to mitigate climate risks to energy infrastructure, ensuring the continuity and quality of electricity services.
Foreword thinking: “Clearly, nuclear must have a seat at the table anytime energy and climate policies are discussed,” says Rafael Mariano Grossi, director general of the IAEA, in the foreword to Nuclear Energy for a Net Zero World. “As we head toward this year’s vital United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, it is time to make evidence-based decisions and ramp up the investment in nuclear. The cost of not doing so is far too high to bear.”