Nuclear power phase-out threatens climate goals

According to the International Energy Agency, it is a problem for the global climate goals, that several countries are phasing out nuclear energy.

For decades, nuclear power has been a disputed energy source, first and foremost because of the historic accidents that have been related to the operations of nuclear power plants. Over the last years, several of the world’s largest economies have announced plans to scale down or completely phase out nuclear power from the energy mix, and this development appears to continue. According to numbers from the International Energy Agency (IEA), the world’s developed countries will have lowered their nuclear power capacity with 25 % by 2025 and by as much as 67 % by 2040 compared to today.

The massive downscale of nuclear power means, that there is a big hole in the global energy mix, which has to be filled by other energy sources. The IEA projects, that at a big part of the demand has to be covered by fossil fuels. This means that the nuclear power phase out is a major problem for the global climate coals, and it stops several countries from living up to their commitments regarding the Paris agreement from 2015.

According to the IEA, the increase in renewable energy sources continues in the developed countries, but the buildup in wind, solar and hydropower is not fast enough to cover the production lost by the out-phased nuclear power. The IEA estimates, that the renewable energy capacity has to increase fivefold towards 2040 to cover demand.

While the world’s leading economies are generally looking to phase out nuclear power, there are some countries that are still increasing their nuclear fleet. In total, nuclear power accounts for around 30 % of the global energy production.