In a report issued recently, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) projects that the globe will continue to add nuclear generating capacity, despite the abandonment of nuclear power by some nations after the Fukushima incident in Japan.
The world currently has a total nuclear capacity of 370 gigawatts.In the low case, IAEA expects 25% growth by the Year 2030 for a total of 456 gigawatts of capacity. The high case projected by the agency represents a doubling of current nuclear capacity to 740 gigawatts of capacity in the same time period. These new projections are slightly less optimistic than those made by IAEA in 2011 in the wake of Fukushima.
IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano noted in a recent address to the 56th General Conference that the latest projections for nuclear power around the world “show a steady rise in the number of nuclear power plants in the world in the next 20 years,” with developing nations showing significant interest in adding nuclear generating capacity.
As might be expected, the most significant growth in nuclear capacity will occur in areas with nuclear portfolios already. Eastern Asia presents the strongest growth, with nations such as China and South Korea adding between 73 and 194 gigawatts of capacity by 2030.
The future of nuclear power in Western Europe and North America in the Year 2030 is less clear, with low and high case scenarios representing either a small dip or modest growth in nuclear portfolios. In Western Europe, for example, nuclear capacity could drop in the low case by 45 gigawatts or grow slightly in the high case by a meager 11 gigawatts. North America could see anywhere from a loss of 3 gigawatts to the addition of 34 gigawatts.
“These findings by IAEA demonstrate that nuclear power is likely to play a key role in adding reliable baseload power to the world’s power grids,” explains PACE Executive Director Lance Brown. “Hopefully U.S. policy makers will take note that while our competitors add nuclear capacity to meet their growing needs, our nation, which invented the commercial nuclear industry, remains largely stagnant on the nuclear front.”