The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has released its latest projections for energy, electricity and nuclear power trends through 2050. Compared with the previous year, the 2020 projections are largely unchanged. Under the high case scenario, IAEA analysts expect an increase of global nuclear electrical generating capacity by 82% to 715 gigawatts. Under the low case scenario, it will fall by 7% to 363 gigawatts.
From 2019 to 2050, global electricity generation is expected to more than double, exceeding nuclear generation capacity growth also in the high case scenario. Therefore, IAEA experts expect the share of nuclear power amongst all sources of electricity to remain either stable or decline. In 2019 nuclear power generated 10.4% of global electricity.
Commitments made under the 2016 Paris Agreement on climate change and other initiatives could support nuclear power development, provided the necessary energy policies and market designs are established to facilitate investments in dispatchable, low carbon technologies. Furthermore, nuclear power could provide solutions for electricity consumption growth, air quality concerns, the security of energy supply and price volatility of other fuels.
The report lays out that about two thirds of nuclear power reactors have been in operation for over 30 years, highlighting the need for significant new nuclear capacity to offset retirements. Uncertainty remains regarding the replacement of the large number of reactors scheduled to be retired around 2030 and beyond, particularly in North America and Europe. Ageing management programmes and long term operation are being implemented for an increasing number of reactors.