Nuclear extensions are an even more competitive in Japan, where renewables remain expensive and coal and gas must be imported. Given these challenges, there is a possibility that the nuclear fleet in advanced economies could face a steep decline. Under this case, nuclear capacity operating in advanced economies would decline by two-thirds by , from about GW in down to just over 90 GW in The implications of the Nuclear Fade Case are numerous, including possible electricity security concerns as gas-fired capacity plays an even more central role in meeting peak demand, and the need for significant additional investment.
Critically, a major clean energy shortfall would emerge by , calling on wind and solar PV to accelerate deployment even further to fill the gap. In this context, countries that intend to retain the option of nuclear power should consider the following actions:. Contact information info iea. World Energy Outlook Paris, France. Oil Market Report Online. Media contacts press iea.
Member countries. Today Tracking Clean Energy Progress Are the sectors and technologies critical to the clean energy transition on track?
Browse all IEA publications Contact us. Nuclear power in a clean energy system A key source of low-carbon power. An aging nuclear fleet In the absense of further lifetime extensions and new projects could result in an additional 4 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions, underlining the importance of the nuclear fleet to low-carbon energy transitions around the globe. Read more about extensions in…. Additionally, they do not require bulky sockets or fixtures and could be embedded directly into ceilings or walls.
At present, such systems are too expensive for broad commercial use. But if they can be made affordable, the effect will be dramatic. Other researchers are exploring ways to make industrial and manufacturing processes much more efficient. In particular, processes used to separate chemicals and to enable chemical reactions are being evaluated for possible savings. A similar effort is under way in analyzing the energy intensive forest products industry.
Researchers have identified enhanced raw materials, next-generation mill processes, improved fiber recycling, and wood processing as candidates for improvements in efficiency. Multiple parallel efforts will be needed, and that recognition has prompted intense interest in a wide variety of new technologies. Some will require substantial improvements—or even research breakthroughs—to have a major impact on our energy budget.
The following are some of the options. Consortia of companies are working with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to secure federal approval for these types of nuclear power plants, and several utilities recently requested approval of a combined construction and operating license. Longer term advances could broaden the desirability and future use of nuclear energy.
Nuclear energy in developing countries | American Academy of Arts and Sciences
The goals of these efforts are to improve the economics, safety, fuel-cycle waste management, and proliferation resistance of nuclear reactors, as well as widen their applications. DOE is pursuing the demonstration of one such design, a very-high temperature reactor, through its Next Generation Nuclear Plant program, and the facility is scheduled to begin operations by In theory, it could be much more.
In practice, it will require considerable scientific and engineering progress in the two ways of converting the energy of sunlight into usable forms. Photovoltaic PV systems exploit the photoelectric effect discovered more than a century ago. In certain materials, the energy of incoming light kicks electrons into motion, creating a current. Sheets of these materials are routinely employed to power a host of devices from orbiting satellites to pocket calculators, and many companies make roof-sized units for homes and office buildings.
At the present time, however, the best commercial PV systems produce electricity at five to six times the cost of other generation methods.
Furthermore, unless PV energy is consumed immediately, it must be stored in batteries or by some other method. Adequate and cost-effective storage solutions await development. One factor favoring PV systems is that they produce maximum power close to the time of peak loads, which are driven by air-conditioning. Peak power is much more expensive than average power. With the advent of time-of-day pricing for power, which is technologically feasible, PV power would be much closer to being economical. Sunlight can also be focused and concentrated by mirrors and the resulting energy employed to heat liquids that drive turbines to create electricity—a technique called solar thermal generation.
Existing systems produce electricity at about twice the cost of fossil-fuel sources. Engineering advances will reduce the cost, but solar thermal generation is unlikely to be feasible outside regions such as the southwestern United States that receive substantial sunlight over long time periods.
Many new vehicle technologies have the goal of steering automobiles away from a dependence on fossil fuels. One vision is an all-electric vehicle EV that uses no gasoline or diesel fuel and does not emit any CO2. But affordable and reliable EVs will require advances in energy storage. At present, batteries that store enough electricity to give a vehicle acceptable driving range are expensive, large, and heavy. Yet technology may provide new options.
For example, recent advances in nanotechnology, applied to the lithium ion battery, may permit significantly more energy to be stored in a smaller, lighter package. A compromise—plug-in hybrid electric vehicles PHEVs —may secure a significant place in the market sooner. PHEVs have conventional gasoline engines as well as batteries that can supply enough energy to travel 10 to 40 miles, depending on the kind of batteries used.
They run on electric power until the batteries are discharged, then switch to gasoline for additional range. EV and PHEV batteries are recharged by plugging them into an electricity source while the vehicle is parked.
Nuclear power in the 21st century: Challenges and possibilities
This provides the immediate benefit of shifting some transportation energy demand from onboard petroleum-based fuels to the electrical grid. But like solar energy, the source is intermittent and currently lacks an economically practical way to store its energy output. Current designs can also be a hazard to birds and bats. New technologies focus on separating, capturing, and safely storing the CO2 before it is discharged from the smokestack. Several approaches are possible. One is coal gasification, a process in which coal is converted to a gas called syngas before it is burned, making it easier to separate the CO2 as a relatively pure gas before power is generated.
Another option is to burn coal in oxygen instead of air as is currently done , to reduce the amount of flue gas—essentially exhaust—that must be processed to isolate CO2. These techniques show promise but require more research and development. They also substantially increase the cost of the electricity produced.
Once CO2 has been captured, it must be sequestered, or permanently stored. Current options focus on such geological formations as oil and gas reservoirs, unmineable coal seams, and deep saline aquifers, all of which are geologically sealed and unlikely to allow injected CO2 to escape. While these technologies are very promising, it still must be proven that large quantities of CO2 can be stored effectively underground and monitored for long periods of time. The methods also must be acceptable to the public and regulatory agencies.
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Large-scale field trials of prototypes of coal-fueled, near-zero-emissions power plants are needed to test the viability of several of these new clean coal technologies. For more than years, scientists have known that when hydrogen and oxygen combine to form water H2O , the chemical reaction releases electrical energy. Devices that use a controlled combination of the two gases to generate current are called fuel cells. There are several significant obstacles to achieving that vision.
Present fuel cells are too expensive and unreliable for the mass market.
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