Nuclear power’s long-term potential remains high, although its global expansion is projected to slow down in coming years, according to a new IAEA (International Atomic Agency) report on International Status and Prospects for Nuclear Power 2017. The decline compared to previous projections is mainly on account of early retirement or lack of interest in extending life of nuclear power plants in some countries, due to the reduced competitiveness of nuclear power in the short run and national nuclear policies in several countries following the accident at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in 2011.
The IAEA’s projections for global installed nuclear power capacity in the high case indicate an increase from 2016 levels by 42% in 2030, by 83% in 2040 and by 123% in 2050. The low case projects a decline in capacity by 12% in 2030 and 15% in 2040 before rebounding to present levels by 2050. Global electricity demand growth continues and is mainly driven by emerging economies. There are 28 countries interested in introducing nuclear power. Of the 30 countries already operating nuclear power plants, 13 are either constructing new ones or are actively completing previously suspended construction projects, and 16 have plans or proposals for building new reactors.
The IAEA’s projections are developed by world experts taking into account the status and condition of all 447 operating reactors, possible licence renewals, planned shutdowns and plausible construction projects foreseen for the next several decades. The low case, designed to produce “conservative but plausible” estimates, assumes a continuation of current market, technology and resource trends with few changes to policies affecting nuclear power. The high case assumes that current rates of economic and electricity demand growth, particularly in Asia, will continue. (Source: IAEA)