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Current trends in energy supply and use are unsustainable. Without decisive action, energyrelated emissions of carbon dioxide will nearly double by 2050 and increased fossil energy demand will heighten concerns over the security of supplies. We can change our current path, but this will take an energy revolution in which lowcarbon energy technologies will have a crucial role to play. Energy efficiency, many types of renewable energy, carbon capture and storage, nuclear power and new transport technologies will all require widespread deployment if we are to sharply reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Every major country and sector of the economy would need to be involved. The task is urgent if we are to make sure that investment decisions taken now do not saddle us with sub-optimal technologies in the long term. Awareness is growing on the need to turn political statements and analytical work into concrete action. To spark this movement, the International Energy Agency (IEA) is leading the development of a series of Roadmaps for some of the most important technologies. By identifying the steps needed to accelerate the implementation of technology changes, these Roadmaps will enable governments, industry and financial partners to make the right choices – and in turn help societies to make the right decisions.
This Roadmap is an update of the 2010 Technology Roadmap: Nuclear Energy (IEA/NEA, 2010), and, similarly to the 2010 edition, it has been prepared jointly by the IEA and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA). The nuclear energy landscape has changed since 2010, with a number of events affecting its development: the Fukushima Daiichi accident, which heightened public concern over the safety of nuclear energy in many countries, and the subsequent safety reviews and development of new safety requirements to ensure even higher levels of safety for existing and future nuclear power plants; the shift towards Generation III reactors for nuclear new build; and the economic and financial crises that have both lowered energy demand and made financing of capital-intensive infrastructure projects more challenging, especially in liberalised electricity markets.
As a follow-up to this Roadmap, the NEA is initiating a highly technical survey to identify the critical research and development efforts that are needed to enable countries to consider advanced nuclear energy technologies as they attempt to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels. Each country must decide what energy mix is optimal for its national circumstances. However, the fundamental advantages provided by nuclear energy in terms of reduction of GHG emissions, competitiveness of electricity production and security of supply still apply. The number of reactors under construction is currently the highest in 25 years, with the People’s Republic of China leading the way in terms of new projects.
There is also renewed interest in developing more innovative designs and advanced nuclear fuel cycles to address new markets and improve the competitiveness of nuclear power plants. The Roadmap is based on a scenario where long-term global temperature increases are limited to just 2 degrees Celsius (oC) and outlines a scenario that highlights nuclear energy’s potential contribution to this low-carbon future. This scenario is not a prediction of what will happen. Nuclear energy can play a key role in decarbonising our electricity systems by providing a stable source of low-carbon base-load electricity.
By identifying major barriers and recommendations on how they can be overcome, this Roadmap aims to assist governments interested in maintaining or developing nuclear energy technologies. To get us onto the right pathway, this Roadmap highlights several key actions to be addressed in the next decade to ensure the conditions for a safe, publicly accepted and affordable deployment of nuclear technology in countries that already have the technology as well as in newcomer countries.
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