IEA cuts nuclear power growth forecast

12 November 2012

Global nuclear generating capacity will reach some 580 GWe in 2035, according to the latest edition of the World Energy Outlook from the International Energy Agency (IEA). This is 10% less than the IEA forecast a year ago.

Launching the World Energy Outlook 2012, the IEA said that its New Policies Scenario - its central scenario - shows that "several fundamental trends persist: energy demand and CO2 emissions rise even higher; energy market dynamics are increasingly determined by emerging economies; fossil fuels remain the dominant energy sources; and providing universal energy access to the world's poor countries continues to be an elusive goal."

The IEA expects global energy demand to increase from 12,380 million tonnes oil equivalent (toe) in 2010 to 16,730 million toe in 2035. China will account for the largest share of this growth, with its demand rising 60% by 2035, followed by India and the Middle East. Energy demand in the OECD in 2035 is expected to be just 3% higher than in 2010. Demand for oil, gas and coal is likely to grow in absolute terms up to 2035, but their combined share of the global energy mix falls from 81% to 75% between 2010 and 2035.

The IEA expects global demand for electricity to grow over 70% by 2035 to almost 36,637 TWh - over half of this growth will be from China and India alone. It noted that coal "remains the backbone of generation globally, particularly outside the OECD, but its share of the mix is eroded from two-fifths to one-third."

Renewables are set "become the world's second-largest source of power generation by 2015 and close in on coal as the primary source by 2035," the IEA suggests. Renewables' share of electricity generation will grow from 20% in 2010 to 31% by 2035. However, this rapid increase "hinges critically on continued subsidies."

Unsustainable path

According to the IEA, energy-related CO2 emissions will increase from an estimated 31.2 gigatonnes (Gt) in 2011 to 37.0 Gt in 2035, pointing to a long-term average temperature increase of 3.6°C.

"Taking all new developments and policies into account, the world is still failing to put the global energy system onto a more sustainable path," the agency said. This is highlighted by a 30% increase in fossil fuel subsidies to $523 billion in 2011. IEA chief economist Fatih Birol said that the world is "going in the wrong direction on climate change," which has "slipped off the policy radar."

Nuclear outlook

The World Energy Outlook notes that, while "ambitions for nuclear have been scaled back" by some countries following the Fukushima accident in Japan, capacity is still projected to rise, led by China, Korea, India and Russia.

Asked about the nuclear phaseout in Japan, Birol expressed concern that higher energy prices would hamper the country's competitiveness. He also emphasized that restricting global warming to 2°C or less could not be achieved without nuclear.

World nuclear capacity, according to the IEA, will reach some 580 GWe in 2035 - about 50 GWe lower than last year's projection. Production will grow from 2756 TWh in 2010 to about 4370 TWh in 2035, an increase of almost 60%. Correspondingly, the share of nuclear in total generation falls from 13% to 12%.

Changing global energy map

According to the IEA, the USA will become the top oil-producing country by 2017, while Iraq will account for almost half of all new oil production to 2035.

Meanwhile, several countries - including Japan, China, and the USA - have recently passed legislation aimed at improving their energy efficiency.

IEA executive director Maria van der Hoeven said: "This year's World Energy Outlook shows that by 2035, we can achieve energy savings equivalent to nearly a fifth of global demand in 2010."

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News