Nuclear power to stay prominent, UN atomic energy agency reports
New projections from the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) show that nuclear power will remain a key energy source in the coming decades, with over two dozen new reactors now under construction globally.
A new report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) projects an average growth rate of up to 2.5 per cent, or expressed as wattage, 679 gigawatts, by 2030. The low projection would be 447 gigawatts for the same period.
“Our job is not so much to predict the future but to prepare for it,” said IAEA Nuclear Analyst Alan McDonald. “To that end we update each year a high and low projection to establish the range of uncertainty we ought to be prepared for.”
The report documents 435 operating nuclear reactors around the world, including 103 in the United States alone. Globally, 29 more are under construction. The US had the most operating units, followed by France, with 59; Japan (55) and the Russian Federation (31).
Of the 30 countries with nuclear power, the percentage of electricity supplied by nuclear ranged from a high of 78 per cent in France to just 2 per cent in China. But the report notes that China is experiencing “huge energy growth and is trying to expand every source it can, including nuclear power.” With four reactors under construction, China plans a nearly five-fold expansion by just 2020.
Nuclear power's share of worldwide electricity production rose from less than 1 per cent in 1960 to 16 per cent in 1986, and that percentage has held essentially constant in the 21 years since 1986, according to the IAEA. Nuclear electricity generation has grown steadily at the same pace as overall global electricity generation. At the close of 2006, nuclear provided about 15 per cent of total electricity worldwide.
Serving as the main global forum for scientific and technical cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear technology, the IAEA carries out programmes to maximize the useful contribution of nuclear technology to society while verifying its peaceful use.