Survey of Energy Resources 2007
Nuclear - Projected Growth for Nuclear Power
In 2006, updated projections of nuclear power expansion in the period to 2030 were published by the IAEA (2006b), and by the International Energy Agency (IEA) in its World Energy Outlook (WEO) 2006 (IEA, 2006). The IAEA provides a high and a low projection for nuclear power. The World Energy Outlook 2006 includes a reference scenario plus an alternative scenario that assumes additional measures to enhance energy security and mitigate CO2 emissions.
In 2005, the IEA published an additional study with seven scenarios extending to 2050 (IEA, 2005). These include a baseline scenario and six 'accelerated technology scenarios' (ACTs). The ACTs examine technological options to limit or reverse global growth in CO2 emissions and oil consumption.
In early 2007, the European Commission (EC) published the World Energy Technology Outlook - 2050 (WETO-H2), (EC, 2006). Built on a business-as-usual or reference case, WETO H2 analyses two specific scenarios that reflect political objectives for mitigating climate change and promoting new clean energy technologies. A 'carbon constraint case' explores the consequences of more ambitious carbon-emissions policies that aim at the long-term stabilisation of atmospheric CO2 concentrations. The 'hydrogen case' builds on the 'carbon constraint case' and explores a series of scientific breakthroughs that significantly increase the cost-effectiveness of hydrogen technologies.
The four publications thus include, altogether, fourteen scenarios. Their projections for nuclear power are summarised in Fig. 6-15 . The bars in Fig. 6-15 show the spread between the 'low' (IAEA), reference scenario (IEA) and reference case (WETO) nuclear electricity projections - the bottom of the respective bars - and the 'high' (IAEA), 'accelerated policy' (IEA) and 'carbon constraint/hydrogen scenarios' (WETO).
In Fig. 6-15 the IAEA low projection assumes that no new nuclear power plants are built beyond what is under construction or firmly planned today and old nuclear power plants are retired on schedule. Nuclear electricity generation in this projection grows to just 3 100 TWh in 2020 (1.1% growth per year) and remains essentially unchanged in the period to 2030. The IAEA high projection incorporates additional reasonable planned and proposed nuclear projects beyond those already firmly in the pipeline. It shows steady growth to 5 040 TWh in 2030 (2.6% growth per year). Fig. 6-16 shows the nuclear capacity developments by major region for the IAEA high and low projections.
Fig. 6-16 shows that the global aggregates in Fig. 6-15 mask regional differences, particularly in the low projection. Nuclear electricity generation in Western Europe in the low projection drops by almost 60% between 2005 and 2030, as projected retirements consistently outpace new construction. But nuclear power generation in the Far East grows by 80% and in Eastern Europe by almost 50%. In the high projection, nuclear generation grows in all regions. In both projections, new construction is greatest in the Far East, Eastern Europe, North America and the Middle East/Southeast Asia, in that order.
The IEA WEO reference scenario is a 'business-as-usual' scenario that assumes the continuation of current policies and trends. Projected nuclear electricity generation in this scenario is almost identical to that in the IAEA low projection. The measures in the alternative scenario to enhance energy security and mitigate CO2 emissions are expected to boost nuclear electricity generation but, as shown in Fig. 6-15, not enough to match the IAEA high projection.
The EC WETO reference case foresees a much faster expansion of nuclear-generated electricity - the 6 300 TWh by 2030 is approximately twice the amount projected by both IEA and IAEA. While in the IAEA and IEA scenarios nuclear's share declines to 12-13% (IAEA) and 10% (IEA), the WETO cases project, after some decline by 2020, a return to the 16-17% market share observed between the early 1990s and 2005. Although the reference case is essentially a continuation of existing economic and technological trends, the short-term constraints on the development of oil and gas production, a receding public reservation against nuclear power and the implementation of moderate climate policies lead after 2020 to a strong expansion of nuclear power for its climate-friendly characteristics and for reasons of energy security (Fig. 6-17 ).
The 'carbon constraint' case involves only marginally higher nuclear electricity generation than the reference case, but nuclear's share approaches 19% owing to the lower global demand for electricity in an inherently more energy-efficient world economy. A world that develops, commercialises and adopts hydrogen end-use technologies as well as supply infrastructures would boost demand for nuclear electricity to more than 8 800 TWh (top of the WETO bar for 2030 in Fig. 6-15) or 1 200 GWe installed capacity by 2030.
For the IEA scenarios to 2050, (Fig. 6-15) the low end of the range is defined by the baseline scenario and a 'low nuclear scenario'. These are essentially extensions of the WEO 2006 reference scenario. The high end of the range is set by the TECH Plus scenario, which assumes accelerated cost reductions for fuel cells, renewables, biofuels and nuclear power. In this scenario, nuclear electricity generation continues to grow to 2050 at essentially the same rate as in the IAEA high projection, and its share of global electricity generation reaches 22%. The other four IEA scenarios cluster around the level of the dotted white line, at about 5 650 TWh, or an average growth rate of 1.7% from 2005.
The WETO cases in 2050 use between 14 800 TWh (reference case - 25% share) and 21 400 TWh (hydrogen case - 37% share) of nuclear electricity: certainly an outlook that breaks with short-term trends and the cautious projections of the IEA and IAEA. The WETO cases assume the implementation of drastic climate-change policies (carbon taxes, etc.) consistent with a definition of a 2oC increase in mean global temperature (or a maximum CO2 concentration of 450 ppmv) as the normative limit for the avoidance of dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. Other critical assumptions are accelerated innovation and technology learning, technology diffusion and adoption of Generation IV nuclear technologies and fuel cycles. Nuclear power would become a major supplier of both electricity and hydrogen.
The nuclear shares of the WETO cases are consistent, however, with many long-term business-as-usual scenarios that were developed for assessing greenhouse gas emission profiles in the absence of designated climate policies. Scenarios that extend to 2050 and beyond account for a changed overall energy resource situation, including depletion of low-cost fossil occurrences or the probability that the most convenient sites for renewables will have already been utilised. Fossil fuels extracted in 2050 will therefore come from higher cost-categories than the cheaper fossil fuels against which nuclear energy is competing in the shorter run. For example, the non-climate-intervention scenarios of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) project between 15% and 26% nuclear electricity for the year 2050 (IPCC, 2000).