IEA: Nuclear energy set for risky, significant decline

Feb. 27 (UPI) — Nuclear power is set for a significant decline by 2040 and will create energy security challenges unless policies are put in place to help promote investment, the International Energy Agency said Wednesday.

«Nuclear energy plays a major role in both energy security and sustainability,» said Fatih Birol, executive director of the IEA.

«However without appropriate policy attention, its contribution will shrink, creating challenges for meeting our energy policy goals in the future,» he said.

Outside of Japan, nuclear power generation in developed economies is set to decline by 20 percent by 2040, the IEA said. This decrease will be far greater if expected investments in plant life extension or new facilities do not take place, it added.

The 30-member, Paris-based IEA has since 1974 —a time of historical oil price surges — worked on energy strategy for Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development countries.

The agency worked on a scenario in which new policies are put in place and it resulted in nuclear power actually expanding with two countries, China and India, responsible for over 90 percent of net growth by 2040.

The IEA said it will reveal details in Vancouver in May.

Agneta Rising, director general of the World Nuclear Association, said in December that the nuclear energy industry was working «to ensure the Paris Agreement rulebook encourage and enables all low carbon technologies, including nuclear energy.»

«The future decarbonization of the electricity sector is central to tackling climate change. We have the solutions, but we are lacking the decisions,» she said at the time.

Nuclear power is likely to be on track for the 2020 target of 438 GW installed capacity, as construction of 40 GW is completed. However, it will be increasingly unlikely that nuclear power will be on track for the 2025 target of 490 GW installed capacity, the EIA said in a nuclear study page.

Since it takes more than five years to build a nuclear plant, new construction starting today will not be online before 2023. This makes looking beyond 2025 challenging because nuclear policies are uncertain.

Some groups oppose nuclear energy.

Environmental organization Green America said points out that nuclear plants «may produce lower-carbon energy, but this energy comes with a great deal of risk.»

«Green America is active in addressing the climate crisis by transitioning the U.S. electricity mix away from its heavy emphasis on coal-fired and natural gas power. But all of that work will be wasted if we transition from fossil fuels to an equally dangerous source — nuclear power,» the organization said.

According to Green America there are some 444 nuclear power plants in 30 countries worldwide.

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