World Nuclear Association’s reaction to the IEA’s World Energy Outlook 2020

For immediate release 13 October 2020

The IEA’s World Energy Outlook 2020, published today, explores the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the energy sector and the near-term actions that could accelerate clean energy transitions. The report highlights that nuclear reactors have been a key contributor to global electricity supply during the pandemic, providing an important source of flexibility in many markets.

In order to achieve sustainable energy objectives in full, including the Paris Agreement, energy access and air quality goals, investments in new nuclear capacity will be required. In the Report’s Net Zero Emissions by 2050 scenario (NZE2050), 180 GW of new nuclear capacity is to be built by 2030. In the Sustainable Development Scenario, 140 GW of new nuclear capacity would be built by 2030.

Reacting to the report, World Nuclear Association Director General Agneta Rising made the following comments:

Nuclear energy is a proven and reliable clean energy technology that has already been deployed at scale. Nuclear is the second largest source of low-carbon electricity generation worldwide. In 2019, for the first time, nuclear and renewables together generated more electricity than coal fired power stations, according to IEA’s report

We welcome the IEA’s recognition of the potential for nuclear energy to play an important role in the transition to a clean energy system and we strongly endorse the IEA’s call for investment in clean energy, including nuclear energy, to rise from the current one-third of total energy investment to around two-thirds by 2030.

We support the IEA’s view that to achieve the clean energy transition identified in their Sustainable Development Scenario, near-term actions to bolster nuclear power, including supporting lifetime extensions and expanding new build projects, are required.

However, further actions will be required, and we call on governments worldwide to facilitate investment in new nuclear build to tackle systemic issues, such as air pollution and climate change. A number of models show that significantly more nuclear energy will be required for an orderly energy transition. In the IPCC’s 1.5C special report middle of the road scenario, for example, nuclear energy increases six times by 2050, and nuclear represents 25% of the electricity mix. 

Investments into nuclear energy can also play a central role in post-COVID recovery efforts by boosting economic growth in the short-term, whilst also supporting, in a cost-effective manner, the development of a resilient and affordable electricity infrastructure. Investments into nuclear energy strengthen energy security, create long-term jobs, and can contribute to the production of heat and hydrogen to decarbonize other sectors of the economy. 



World Nuclear Association is the international organisation that represents the global nuclear industry. Its mission is to promote a wider understanding of nuclear energy among key international influencers by producing authoritative information, developing common industry positions, and contributing to the energy debate, as well as to pave the way for expanding nuclear business.

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