All credible models show that nuclear energy has an important role to play in global climate change mitigation efforts (e.g. IEA, 2021; BNEF, 2021; IIASA, 2021). Despite clear analyses from many sources, including the NEA, that point to the need for a massive, “all-the-above” approach that includes nuclear energy, some multinational activities, financial institutions, and policy makers avoid discussion of nuclear energy. This dynamic is deeply problematic to the cause of carbon reductions. All low-carbon technologies, including nuclear energy must be included in relevant discussions about the energy transition in order to maintain the integrity and evidence base of the policy dialogue. Without a significant contribution from nuclear energy, the prospects for meeting Paris targets will be significantly lower.
New analysis by the NEA identifies the potential contribution of nuclear energy to clean energy capacity and emissions reductions between 2020 and 2050, taking into consideration the potential contributions from power and non-power applications of nuclear technologies.
Taken together, the contributions of long-term operation, new builds of Generation III nuclear technologies, small modular reactors, Generation IV systems, nuclear hybrid energy and hydrogen systems begin to reveal the full extent of the potential for nuclear energy and nuclear innovations to play a significant and growing role in pathways to net-zero by 2050.
The NEA estimates included in this report are not forecasts but represent what can be achieved with timely enabling decisions.