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EIA Sees Growth in Nuclear Worldwide

July 25, 2013The Energy Information Administration projects that total electricity generation from nuclear energy worldwide will increase by 35 percent—from 2,620 billion kilowatt-hours in 2010 to 5,492 billion in 2040, with significant growth in China and India.

EIA’s International Energy Outlook 2013 (IEO2013), released this week, estimates in its reference scenario that world net electricity generation will increase by 93 percent between 2010 and 2040, from 20.2 trillion kilowatt-hours to 39.0 trillion.

The report notes that renewable energy and nuclear power are “the world's fastest-growing energy sources, each increasing by 2.5 percent per year,” although fossil fuels are seen as fueling 80 percent of “world energy use through 2040,” with natural gas the fastest growing fossil fuel during the period.

The nuclear share of total global energy use is projected to rise from 5 percent in 2010 to 7 percent in 2040 while the share of renewable energy sources rises from 11 percent to 15 percent. In terms of world electricity generation, nuclear energy rises from 13 percent of the total to 14 percent and renewables from 21 to 25 percent during the same period.

“The key issue for nuclear energy may be whether [small reactors] will present an opportunity for global growth, said EIA Administrator Adam Sieminski, who presented the report at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Despite the relatively fast growth of nuclear and renewable resources, the continued dependence on fossil fuels produces a persistent carbon dioxide emission profile. “Given current policies and regulations limiting fossil fuel use,” the report says, “worldwide energy-related carbon dioxide emissions rise from about 31 billion metric tons in 2010 to 45 billion metric tons in 2040, a 46 percent increase.”

All IEO figures can differ greatly from year to year and are not intended to be predictions. Instead, the report provides a number of scenarios assuming different energy policies and outcomes. In the reference scenario, considered the baseline against which other scenarios are compared, EIA accounts only for current energy policy.

For example, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said recently that several nuclear energy facilities shuttered after the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi accident will reopen, but the EIA projections include only the two reactors operating now. The reactors that may reopen next year will be reflected in EIA’s next International Energy Outlook.

Nuclear Energy Overview