IAEA projects increase in nuclear’s growth for second year in a row

September 29, 2022, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The International Atomic Energy Agency, for the second successive year, has revised upward its annual projections of nuclear power’s potential growth over the coming decades as an electricity provider.

In the just-released 42nd edition of Energy, Electricity and Nuclear Power Estimates for the Period up to 2050, the IAEA has increased its high-case scenario for nuclear by 10 percent over last year’s report. (In 2021, the agency revised upward its annual projections for the first time since the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi accident.)

According to the high-case scenario, world nuclear generating capacity more than doubles to 873 GWe by 2050, compared with current levels of about 390 GWe—an addition of 81 GWe to last year’s projection. In the low-case scenario, generating capacity remains essentially flat.

Other projections from the report include the following:

  • Total electricity production is expected to jump about 23 percent by 2030 and 85 percent by 2050, compared with 2021 levels.
  • In the high-case scenario, nuclear electricity production is expected to see an approximate 40 percent increase from the 2021 level by 2030 and a more than 2.5-fold increase by 2050. Nuclear’s share of total electricity production is expected to tick up more than 3 percentage points.
  • In the low case, nuclear electricity production is expected to move up about 12 percent from the 2021 level by 2030, reaching 29 percent by 2050. The share of nuclear in total electricity production is expected to decline by about 3 percentage points.

The report’s projections are derived from two studies: the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook 2021 and the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s International Energy Outlook 2021.

Words of Wisdom: “We are at a defining moment in the world’s transition to a more secure, stable, and affordable energy future,” said Rafael Mariano Grossi, the IAEA’s director general, in a September 26 press release. “Driven by the impacts of climate change and the energy crisis, governments are reconsidering their portfolios in favor of nuclear power. But for the high-case scenario to be achieved, a number of challenges need to be addressed, including regulatory and industrial harmonization and progress in high-level waste disposal.”

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