The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) expects nuclear energy to at least retain its current generating capacity or conceivably grow “by about 56%” by 2030, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano of Japan said Sept. 19.
Amano made the comment during a 29-minute press conference, video of which was posted on the IAEA website.
The director general’s assessment was in keeping with a wide range issued at the end of 2015 by IAEA that concluded nuclear capacity growth of between 2% and 70%.
Nuclear power “does not emit climate change gas, and does increase energy security,” Amano said during his press conference.
Chiefly, most nuclear power growth is in Asia rather than the West, Amano said in response to a question about EDF Energy’s Hinkley Point C nuclear power project.
“We must never be complacent and lessons must continue to be learned,” Amano said of the advances made since the 2011 Fukushima meltdown in Japan. New reactor technology with more advanced safety features must be explored, Amano said.
The IAEA Nuclear Technology Review for 2016 said that with 441 reactors operating at the end of 2015, nuclear energy had a global generating capacity of 382.9 GW(e). Seven reactors were permanently shut-down, ten were connected to the grid, the highest number since 1990, and construction started on eight.
Near and long term growth prospects remained centered in Asia, particularly in China. Of the 68 reactors under construction, 45 were in Asia, as were 39 of the 45 reactors that were connected to the grid since 2005.
Thirty countries currently use nuclear power and about the same number are considering, planning or actively working to include it in their energy mix.
Most of the Sept. 19 press conference was dominated by questions about nuclear proliferation issues in North Korea.
The IAEA was created in 1957 in response to the deep fears and expectations generated by the discoveries and diverse uses of nuclear technology. The Agency’s genesis was U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s “Atoms for Peace” address to the General Assembly of the United Nations on 8 December 1953.
The IAEA slogan is “Atoms for peace and development.”