OECD NEA: “Nuclear Is Crucial For Climate Change Mitigation Efforts”
OECD Nuclear Energy Agency recently published its last report “Meeting Climate Change Targets: The Role of Nuclear Energy“, which focuses on the potential contribution of nuclear energy to clean energy capacity and emissions reductions between 2020 and 2050, taking into consideration the contributions from power and non-power applications of nuclear technologies.
Taken together, the contributions of long-term operation, new builds of Generation III nuclear technologies, small modular reactors (SMRs), Generation IV systems, nuclear hybrid energy and hydrogen systems begin to reveal the full extent of the potential for nuclear energy and nuclear innovations to play a significant and growing role in pathways to net-zero by 2050.
In addition to electricity production, these technologies can support several applications including (but not necessarily limited to) sector coupling, cogeneration for heavy industry and resource extraction, hydrogen and synthetic fuel production, desalination, and off-grid applications.
Today, nuclear energy supplies approximately 10% of the world’s electricity from 444 nuclear power reactors in operation worldwide providing 394 GWe of capacity. Nuclear energy is the largest source of non-emitting electricity generation in OECD countries and the second largest source worldwide (after hydroelectric power).
In 2018 the IPCC considered 90 pathways consistent with a 1.5°C scenario – i.e. pathways with emissions reductions sufficient to limit average global warming to less than 1.5°C. The IPCC found that, on average, the pathways for the 1.5°C scenario require nuclear to reach 1,160 gigawatts of electrical capacity by 2050, up from 394 gigawatts in 2020.
Reaching the target of 1,160 gigawatts electrical capacity would avoid 87 gigatonnes of cumulative emissions between 2020 and 2050, preserving 20% of the world’s carbon budget consistent in a 1.5°C scenario. This would be equivalent to avoiding nearly three years of global carbon emissions at 2020 levels.