The IEA expects nuclear energy to take off

1/17/23 12:30 PM
Nuclear and renewables could displace most fossil fuel use by 2050 – reports IEA.

According to International Energy Agency’s Energy Technology Perspectives 2023 report, nuclear and renewables could displace most fossil fuel use by 2050 if the world remains on its pathway to stabilise global average temperatures at 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

In the report’s „net zero emissions (NZE) scenario”, the share of fossil fuels drops from almost 80% in 2021 to less than 20% in 2050. Nuclear power, which today makes up about 5% of global supply, doubles between 2021 and 2050 to 12%.

The report notes that despite the rapid recent growth in clean energy technologies, the world still relies mostly on fossil fuels for its energy supply.

The report says that among typical operating lifetimes of selected energy technologies, nuclear is well ahead at 60 years with hydropower second at 50 years and coal and biomass at 40 years. Solar, offshore wind and onshore wind facilities operate for about 25 years. Their construction time is significantly less though.

The IEA report confirms researches that suggests nuclear power has a minimal carbon footprint of around 15-50 grams of carbon-dioxide per kilowatt hour (gCO2/kWh).

In comparison, the London School of Economics puts the average footprint of a gas-powered generator is around 450 gCO₂/kWh and for coal it is around 1,050 gCO₂/kWh.

The report predicts a significant increase in the number of people employed in the production of clean energy, and also points out that mining the minerals needed for technologies such as solar panels will be a key issue, as they are „concentrated in a small number of countries”.