• Thursday, April 25, 2024
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Global nuclear policies expand, deepen low-carbon energy supplies

GRA and IRENA Join Forces to Accelerate Renewable deployment

Policy support for nuclear energy has broadened in markets with 50 percent of global nuclear capacity as of 2022, addressing the challenges of reliable, low-carbon energy supplies, says a report by Wood Mackenzie, a global energy research firm.

According to Wood Mackenzie, the growth of nuclear energy policies influences new technologies, driving down costs to make nuclear energy competitive with other low-carbon power technologies.

The energy research firm said that as nations look for more low-carbon energy supplies, many are adjusting their energy policies to support new nuclear projects and developing new technologies to make this energy source more cost-competitive.

“Critical to long-term net zero emissions pathways, nuclear power also addresses several challenges facing the world today, including the need for reliable, low-carbon energy supply,” said David Brown, director of energy transition services for Wood Mackenzie.

“Nuclear is a key part of addressing the energy trilemma by limiting the role of higher cost marginal supply sources, such as natural gas.”

Wood Mackenzie said that the United States recently received $6 billion in public support, while other nations such as India, Japan, and especially China will continue to expand support and grow capacity.

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“Investment in conventional and emerging nuclear technologies will need to expand,” said Brown.

“Currently, 75 percent of nuclear capacity was built between 1970-1990, most of it in the US and Europe. New reactors with innovative technologies must be brought online, with the dual target of delivering more low-carbon energies at a competitive price point.”

According to the report, investments in advanced nuclear technologies, such as small modular reactors (SMR) and new reactor technologies, could lower costs, improve time to market, and make nuclear a viable competitor with renewables.

“We project that by 2030, SMR costs can fall quickly to be competitive with abated thermal capacity,” said Brown.

“By 2050, SMR costs could fall even further to be competitive with thermal capacity.”

The energy research firms also said nuclear capacity growth will influence uranium demand. Wood Mackenzie projects that demand will remain flat until 2030 but nearly double to meet its energy transition outlook and triple to meet its Accelerated Energy Transition (AET-2) scenario, consistent with a 2 C warming trajectory by 2050.

It is also said that there is enough uranium to meet this demand, but countries that rely on sources from Russia may find additional challenges.