IEA: nuclear needed for cleaner energy future

In its World Energy Outlook 2006, to be presented on 7 November. the International Energy Agency says that the world is on an unsustainable energy path with under-investments, risks of supply disruptions and increasing greenhouse-gas emissions.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) will recommend the use of more nuclear power as the answer to reducing fossil fuels when it presents its latest World Energy Outlook today (7 November 2006). 

The new report shows that the world’s current energy path is “dirty, insecure and expensive” and tries to sketch the outlines of a new alternative energy future which would be “clean, clever and competitive”. In a Reference or business-as-usual scenario, global primary energy demand will increase by 53% between now and 2030. Most of the increase will come from developing countries (China and India). World oil demand will grow from 84 million barrels per day to 116 million barrels in 2030. As a result, global greenhouse gas emissions will increase by 55% over today’s level.

The IEA recommends an Alternative Policy Scenario where governments would implement the new energy security and CO2 emission policies they are already considering. In this new scenario, world primary energy demand will be 10% less than in the first scenario (still 43% growth) and greenhouse gas emissions would still increase but “only” with 39%. Last week’s Stern report on climate change urged governments to reduce emissions by 25% before 2050 to stabilise greenhouse-gas levels in the atmosphere to around still acceptable levels (see EURACTIV 31 Oct 2006).

A “nuclear revival” is what the IEA proposes to achieve the Alternative Policy Scenario. But it warns at the same time that the nuclear sector will have to overcome public fears of safety and nuclear proliferation and find a solution to the waste disposal issue. And governments will have to facilitate private investments, the IEA says.

The IEA report also presents a Beyond Alternative Policy Scenario where CO2 emissions would be kept at today’s levels, but a set of technological breakthroughs (carbon capture and storage mainly), strong demand-side policies (energy efficiency measures) and fuel-switching to nuclear and renewables is needed according to the Paris-based agency.

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