World Nuclear Association comment on the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook

27 October 2022

The International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook (WEO), published today, projects more than a doubling of nuclear generation by 2050 in its Net Zero Emissions by 2050 (NZE) scenario. The 2022 WEO sees a significant increase over the 2021 edition in the amount nuclear in operation by 2050, with projections of global capacity increasing from 812 GW to 871 GW, both compared to the current 393 GW of operable nuclear capacity worldwide.

Reacting to the report, Sama Bilbao y León, Director General, World Nuclear Association, said;

“Nuclear is a cornerstone of the IEA’s vision of a clean energy future. But nuclear energy has the potential to do much more than what the IEA sets out. A greater contribution from nuclear will be needed because nuclear has the potential to supply both electricity and heat, both of which will be vital to achieving full decarbonization across all sectors.”

The report notes there are a rising number of countries that have announced plans to support new nuclear investment. Despite this, the overall share of nuclear in the electricity mix does not increase from the current 10% in the IEA Stated Policies Scenario (STEPS) and Announced Pledges Scenario (APS), and falls to 8% in the NZE scenario, because of the very strong growth in electricity demand overall.

Nuclear technology has many advantages over other clean energy options. Nuclear reactors are more dependable and resilient, operating 24/7 regardless of weather or time of day. The nuclear industry also offers high-skill, well-paid employment, and investment in local communities. Nuclear reactors also produce a lot of energy from a relatively small land area. According to the IEA’s WEO report, nuclear also requires much less mineral-intensive technology, just over 5000 kg/MW, compared to 7000 kg/MW for solar and 15,000 kg/MW for wind.

Sama Bilbao y León commented;

“The IEA WEO scenarios include only a relatively modest doubling of nuclear generation, whilst some renewable sources see much greater increases in capacity by 2050 compared to current levels. WEO 2022 also includes a significant contribution from as yet undemonstrated Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage (CCUS) technologies. Nuclear energy is a proven technology with many economic, social and environmental advantages. A sound and sustainable clean energy future will need to make much greater use of its benefits.”