Nuclear Power Generation Capacity May Quadruple by 2050

October 16, 2008

The Associated Press

PARIS - The current supply of nuclear-generated electricity is projected to grow by up to a factor of 3.8 by 2050, if governments and the nuclear industry can gain enough public support, the Nuclear Energy Agency said Thursday.

The agency, which is under the umbrella of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, predicted in its first report of its kind that nuclear power could account for 22 percent of global electricity output by 2050, up from 16 percent in 2006.

The Nuclear Energy Outlook said global electricity demand will likely expand by a factor of 2.5 by midcentury on the back of increasing population and strong growth in emerging economies.

The 460-page report noted that many countries are taking renewed interest in constructing nuclear power plants in the light of concerns over energy security and global warming.

If nuclear energy is to expand, the report, published to celebrate the agency's 50th anniversary, however, warned that it would be even more vital to secure public support.

The Paris-based agency, for example, noted that more than half of European Union citizens view nuclear power as having more risks than advantages.

The report also called on government officials and the nuclear industry to work harder together to deliver safe disposal of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste.

"The delay and failure thus far of some major disposal programs for high-level radioactive waste continue to have a significant negative impact on the image of nuclear energy," it said.