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The Year Ahead

Nuclear Power Gets a Fresh Look as Nations Chase Climate Goals

Reactors are poised to become a bigger part of the energy mix as the 2030 emissions deadline looms.
relates to Nuclear Power Gets a Fresh Look as Nations Chase Climate Goals
Illustration: Olivia Fields for Bloomberg Businessweek

The green energy transition is hitting some speed bumps, as power shortfalls in Asia and Europe boost global demand for fossil fuels. That’s exposing the pitfalls of relying too much on fickle wind and solar—and focusing more attention on nuclear energy.

Although efforts to battle climate change have been largely dominated by renewables, the International Energy Agency says achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 will require doubling nuclear power worldwide. It accounted for just 4% of primary energy consumption in 2020, according to BP Plc’s Statistical Review of World Energy. “Nuclear needs to be part of the broader conversation,” says Joseph Majkut, director of the energy security and climate change program at the Center for Strategic & International Studies in Washington, D.C. “We’ll need to build quite a lot to get there.”