IAEA report predicts nuclear growth

24 October 2007

The International Atomic Energy Agency's latest projections predict that global nuclear generation will grow to between 447 and 679 GWe by 2030, from the current level of 370 GWe.

The IAEA's new report, entitled  Energy, Electricity and Nuclear Power for the period up to 2030, is the latest of the IAEA's two annual projections - one high, one low - concerning the growth of nuclear generation. The low projection assumes that all nuclear capacity currently under construction or firmly in the development pipeline is completed and attached to the grid, but no further capacity is added. This low projection would see nuclear capacity grow 25% from the 370 GWe present at the end of 2006 to 447 GWe in 2030.

The high projection adds additional projects and plans that the IAEA describe as 'reasonable and promising'. When these are included the projection for 2030 rises to 679 GWe, an increase of 93%. This represents an annual growth rate of around 2.5%.

The IAEA report says that nuclear power's share of worldwide electricity production rose from less than 1% in 1960 to 16% in 1986, and that percentage has held essentially constant in the 21 years since 1986, with nuclear electricity generation growing steadily at the same pace as overall global electricity generation. At the close of 2006, nuclear provided about 15% of total electricity worldwide.

The IAEA expects nuclear power plant expansion to be centred in Asia, noting that 15 of the 29 units under construction at the end of 2006 were in Asia and 26 of the last 36 reactors to be connected to the grid were in Asia.

Alan MacDonald, a nuclear energy analyst at the IAEA, said "China and India have booming economies, booming populations, growing energy demands. They need to develop all the energy sources they can ... China plans a five-fold increase in nuclear generation by 2020, India plans an eight-fold increase by 2022."

The IAEA's projections are broadly consistent with those recently published by the World Nuclear Association in its latest Market Report, The Global Fuel Market: Supply and Demand 2007-2030, which projects an upper scenario of 730 GWe nuclear capacity by 2030, a lower scenario of 285 GWe, with a reference scenario predicting 529 GWe nuclear generation capacity by 2030.

Further information

International Atomic Energy Agency

WNA's Table of the World's nuclear power reactors 
information paper
Market Report