The director-general of the World Nuclear Association has issued a call to action to governments, expert bodies and the nuclear industry itself, to step up its drive to ensure nuclear power makes a full contribution to the battle against climate change.
Agneta Rising was speaking at the WNA’s annual Nuclear Association Symposium, being held this week in London.
"The world is not on track to provide reliable and affordable electricity to our global population, while meeting our environmental targets," Rising said. "Access to electricity remains out of reach to hundreds of millions of people."
She noted that, at the Paris climate change conference nearly two years ago, governments pledged to keep the rise in global temperatures below 2 degrees. She said the actions they set out, however, will "barely limit" the temperature rise to 3 degrees.
"We need to do more," she said. "Nuclear power is a proven source of reliable, cost effective and clean power with significant public benefits. In 2015 and 2016, 20 new nuclear power plants started supplying electricity. Around 10 GWe of new nuclear capacity was added to the grid in each year. This is a higher amount than seen over the preceding 25 years. Nuclear generation has increased every year for the last four years."
The Association's latest Fuel Report projections, released today, suggest that - unless action is taken - the pace of growth in nuclear generation will slow.
Referring to the Association's Harmony initiative, launched at its Symposium in 2015, Rising said the nuclear industry had set a goal to supply 25 per cent of the world's electricity by 2050, which will mean the construction of 1000 GWe of new nuclear capacity. This expansion of nuclear capacity is achievable, Rising said, and requires new nuclear build at rates the industry achieved in the 1980s.
"But even our upper scenario would not be enough to meet this climate goal. Nuclear needs to do more,” adding that it “will require reform of energy markets, regulation and our perception of safety to make it possible."
“Nuclear energy must be included along all other low-carbon technologies. As the only zero-emission generating resource that can be scaled to meet actual demand, nuclear power must also receive recognition and compensation for its contribution to system reliability and for other public benefits," she said.