Full Title: The Nuclear Option: Making New Nuclear Power Viable in the Energy Transition
Author(s): David Brown
Publisher(s): Wood Mackenzie
Publication Date: May 11, 2023
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The future will run on electricity, yet the world is struggling to decarbonise its power supply and meet demand. The 2022 energy crisis has put energy security and reliability front of mind for governments and underscored the need to press ahead with the development of alternative energy sources. Enter nuclear power, with one of the lowest lifecycle emissions of current power-generation technologies. Innovation and policy are creating new options, but nuclear has yet to overcome sizeable challenges and entrenched negative perceptions. What are the chances, then, that it will become part of the future energy mix?
Today, electricity meets around 20% of global energy demand. Over the next 30 years, almost everything that can be electrified will. Our Energy Transition Outlook – the Wood Mackenzie base case – sees a need for power generation to increase 1.7-fold from today’s levels to 48 PWh by 2050. Electricity’s share of the energy mix could more than double to 50%.
Renewables, complemented by energy storage technologies, will capture the largest share of power investment globally. But the global economy cannot rely on weather-dependent sources of power alone. A smooth energy transition will require multiple fuels and technologies. For nuclear power to flourish, governments, developers and investors must work together to establish a new nuclear ecosystem, one that makes nuclear affordable and acceptable. The challenge of reshaping the future of nuclear is vast, but so is the opportunity.