OECD Observer
Reactor growth

With energy demand set to rise and pressure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, what is the potential of nuclear energy to expand? That depends, says the new Nuclear Energy Outlook from the NEA. The authors suggests two scenarios to 2050: a low expansion scenario whereby currently declared intentions are not fully realised, leading to limited expansion, with most new plants simply as replacement; and a high growth scenario, based on current plans and government statements.

The latter scenario sees an average of 12 new reactors built each year until 2030, reaching 54 reactors per year in 2030-2050. All regions show strong nuclear capacity growth, particularly OECD countries. But in the low scenario, the installed nuclear capacity in OECD Europe decreases. China and India show high increases in both scenarios and have the largest capacity additions of all regions in the low scenario.

According to the Nuclear Energy Outlook, while total capacity in OECD countries increases by a factor of only three between 2006 and 2050, capacities in China and India rise by factors of 16 and 25 respectively. In the low scenario, capacities do not change significantly in OECD North America and OECD Europe up to 2050. In OECD Pacific, nuclear capacity is projected to increase by around 50% by 2050 and, as in the high scenario, the strongest rates of growth are projected to occur in China and India (by factors of 9 and 12 respectively).

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©OECD Observer No 270/271 December 2008-January 2009