The development and deployment of nuclear power has led to the most successful and fast "energy transition" in the last century, leading to the installation of 340 GWe over 40 years, accounting for around 18% of the global electricity generation at its peak at the end of the 1990s. The Nuclear Energy Agency has, since its inception, worked with interested countries to facilitate co-operation and technical exchanges for the purpose of advancing nuclear technology and enhancing its ability to provide safe and secure energy.
Today, climate change is a central societal issue that has resulted in the need to deeply decarbonise the economy, and the energy sector in particular. The concept of "energy transition" is high on many policymaking agendas. It will be critical to ensure the right balance in the energy mix of the future, based on the three pillars of a sound energy policy, delivering sustainable development: i) global environment protection, ii) affordability and competitiveness, and iii) security and reliability of energy supply.
Nuclear energy, as confirmed by the 2018 United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, should play a role in the necessary energy transition towards a very low carbon energy mix.
Innovation is necessary to develop and bring to the market new nuclear technologies that will be able to compete in the global energy markets of the future, being cheaper, more flexible and faster to deploy than the nuclear technologies of yesterday, while continuing to meet high levels of safety. This applies to the traditional nuclear reactor systems per se, but also to the numerous necessary enabling technologies, nuclear and non-nuclear specific, including those from other industrial domains where breakthroughs have been continuously matured and implemented.
Innovation also embraces the need to improve the process to bring technologies to the market in faster and more effective ways, by ensuring a better involvement of all necessary stakeholders (researchers, industry, regulators and authorities) as early as possible.
For this reason, in 2015, the NEA launched a broad initiative on nuclear innovation. The Nuclear Innovation 2050 project covers a wide scope of technology areas addressing reactor systems design and operation, fuels and fuel cycle technologies, waste management and decommissioning, and applications beyond electricity generation. In particular, the project has tackled the potential of the heat market and the corresponding increased flexibility in operation.
, Head of the Division of Nuclear Technology Development and Economics
Last reviewed: 17 November 2019Top