IEA Pushes Nuclear as Carbon Emissions Set to Reach LimitMathew Carr
Nuclear power is needed to help reduce global fossil-fuel emissions that are set to reach limits advocated by scientists by 2040, according to the International Energy Agency.
The world will use up its budget to keep global warming below a level that averts the most severe climate change by 2040 as emissions from oil, natural gas and coal will rise about 20 percent, the Paris-based agency said in its annual World Energy Outlook report published today. Nuclear power has helped cut the equivalent of two years of emissions at current levels since 1971, it said.
Public concern about nuclear safety must be addressed as the world needs the technology to displace other round-the-clock power plants amid plans to shutter almost half the reactors operational in 2013 by 2040 at a cost of more than $100 billion, the IEA said. United Nations envoys are seeking to keep temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) since the beginning of industrialization.
“Nuclear power is one of the few options available at scale to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions while providing or displacing other forms of baseload generation,” the IEA said. “The 2C objective requires urgent action to steer the energy system on to a safer path.”
Most of the 200 plants that will be closed by 2040, out of 434 operational last year, will be in Europe, the U.S., Russia and Japan, the IEA said. Regulators and utilities need to ensure effective policies and adequate funds to cover decommissioning costs, which are about 15 percent of the current investment costs for a nuclear power station.
New power generation capacity of 7,200 gigawatts is needed to meet increasing demand and replace current plants, compared with global capacity of 5,683 gigawatts in 2012, the IEA said. Global nuclear capacity increases 58 percent to 624 gigawatts in 2040 from 394 gigawatts. The share of atomic energy in global electricity generation, which peaked almost two decades ago, rises by 1 percentage point to 12 percent.
Atomic power has helped cut about 56 billion metric tons of energy emissions since 1971, the IEA said. Global temperatures will probably rise 3.6 degrees Celsius in the long term under the central scenario, it said.
A volume limit of 1 trillion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent after this year recommended by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group of scientists formed under the UN, will probably be filled by 2040 without more-urgent energy-policy changes, the agency said.
President Barack Obama pledged deeper U.S. cuts in greenhouse-gases and China targeted a peak of its emissions by 2030 or earlier under a historic agreement the two countries announced today.