BP sees modest growth in nuclear energy

17 January 2014

Global nuclear power use will grow 1.9% annually up to 2035, according to oil and gas giant BP. However, carbon dioxide emissions are seen to increase by almost 30% over that period.

Nuclear generation to 2035 - 250 (BP)

Nuclear generation by region to 2035, thousand TWh (Image: BP)

In the fourth edition of its annual Energy Outlook, BP says that world energy consumption will grow by 41% between 2012 and 2035, from 12,500 million tonnes oil equivalent (toe) to 17,600 million toe. Some 95% of that growth in demand is expected to come from the emerging economies, particularly China and India. Energy use in the advanced economies of North America, Europe and Asia as a group is expected to grow only very slowly - and begin to decline in the later years of the forecast period.

The share of the major fossil fuels are converging with oil, natural gas and coal each expected to make up around 27% of the total mix by 2035 and the remaining 18% share coming from nuclear, hydroelectricity and renewables. Non-fossil fuels are projected to grow faster than total energy consumption in both the OECD (1.8% per year) and the non-OECD (4.3% per year). Between 2012 and 2035 the non-fossil share of primary energy increases from 18% to 25% in the OECD, and from 10% to 16% in the non-OECD.

The global use of nuclear energy is forecast to grow by 1.9% per year, from 560.4 million toe in 2012 to 859.9 million toe in 2035. In the OECD, nuclear generation is projected to decline by 0.2% annually as aging nuclear plants are gradually retired. Therefore, global growth is driven by the non-OECD (with an annual growth rate of 5.9%) and in particular by China, "where new capacity additions will match the growth seen in the US and EU in the 1970s and 1980s."

In the latest World Energy Outlook published by the International Energy Agency in November 2013, nuclear capacity is projected to increase to 578 GWe (from 371 GWe today) and account for around 4300 TWh of generation out of a total of 37,100 TWh from all sources.

Rising emissions

Over the same period, global carbon dioxide emissions are projected to rise by 29%, or 1.1% annually, with all of the growth coming from the emerging economies. BP notes, "Emissions grow more slowly than energy consumption, as the energy mix gradually decarbonizes. By fuel, coal and gas each contribute 38% of the increase in emissions, with 24% coming from oil."

"Policies to curb emissions continue to tighten, and the rate of growth of emissions declines, but emissions remain well above the path recommended by scientists," the report says. "Global emissions in 2035 are nearly double the 1990 level."

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News