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Tackling climate change and achieving the Paris Agreement temperature rise target of 2 degrees Celsius by 2030 requires a hefty investment in nuclear power, a senior official from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Dohee Hahn, said at a conference. Hahn is the director of the Division of Nuclear Power, Department of Nuclear Energy.
Hahn said that the world needs between 10 and 20 new reactors to be built every year until 2030, which will require annual spending of some US$80 billion. By 2040, the world’s nuclear capacity must reach 862 GW, up from 376 GW in 2014.
Nuclear energy is hardly the first thing that comes to mind in the discussion of climate change and measures to take to keep global temperatures in check. Yet nuclear energy is much greener than fossil fuels. The obvious problems are the radiation-related risks, which cannot be underestimated. At the same time, the advantages also must not be underestimated.
In a recent paper Foratom, the European nuclear trade organization, warned that the European Union’s plans to decarbonize the block’s economy by as much as 80 percent by 2050 are impossible to achieve without nuclear power.
In another fresh example from Europe, the front-runner for France’s next president, Emmanuel Macron, might have to review his campaign promise to reduce the country’s dependency on nuclear power from 75 percent to 50 percent by 2025. According to an adviser who spoke to Bloomberg—a cut so deep and fast is impossible to implement.
The situation in the U.S. is also complicated. Besides the recent bankruptcy of giant Westinghouse, some states are subsidizing nuclear plants that would otherwise go under, as a way of diversifying their clean energy sources. Many of these plants are old, on the brink of closure, but the state governments want to save the jobs they create.
While the share of nuclear in the country’s energy mix is relatively constant, the cost of nuclear power generation is growing, challenged by cheaper gas, solar, and wind power.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for the U.S.-based Divergente LLC consulting firm with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.