Electricity consumption is starting to rise again. Demand is expected to grow by 3.4% per year by 2026, driven by China, India and Southeast Asia. But the good news is that these additional needs will be covered by a surplus of energy with low greenhouse gas emissions, namely renewable energies (wind, solar, hydraulic, etc.) and nuclear power. They should represent almost half of global electricity production by 2026, compared to just under 40% in 2023, predicts the International Energy Agency (IEA).
At the start of 2025, renewables will account for more than a third of global electricity production. For its part, nuclear energy production will exceed its last record, established in 2021. This performance, going against the trend of recent decades, which has notably seen Germany exit the atom, is due to a recent return to grace. Of course, some countries are gradually abandoning nuclear energy or shutting down their power plants prematurely. But nuclear production should increase by almost 3% per year on average over the coming years, underlines the IEA, “thanks to the completion of maintenance work in France, the restart of production in Japanese power plants and the start-up of new reactors in China, India, South Korea or Europe. The Agency anticipates a doubling of nuclear power by 2050.
The return to nuclear energy largely materialized during the conference on climate change, COP28, which took place in December in Dubai. More than 20 countries signed a common commitment to triple atomic energy production capacity by 2050. A minority of European countries want to phase out nuclear power, but many emerging countries and advanced economies plan on the contrary to do so. develop. Asia, the main engine of nuclear growth, will generate 30% of this energy in 2026. More than half of the reactors that will be started up by then are in China and India. As for Japan, where nuclear power is regaining favor with public opinion for the first time since the Fukushima disaster in 2011, this energy is being relaunched with the objective of representing 20% of the energy mix in 2030.
In Europe, Berlin does not intend to return to nuclear power and Spain plans to exit it in 2027. But fourteen countries have formed an alliance, under the aegis of France, to increase nuclear capacity by 50% by 2050. installed. The Netherlands want to return to it, Sweden, Belgium, Bulgaria and Poland intend to expand or extend their capacities. The United States, for its part, plans to extend the lifespan of certain reactors up to 80 years and build new ones.
The construction of new reactors generates risks that complicate the financing of this energy source, however, warns the IEA. The start-up often occurs years late and costs much higher than expected. An area where France is breaking records with the Flamanville EPR, which should start in 2024 instead of 2016, and cost four times more than expected, underlines the agency. Conversely, China finalizes the construction of reactors in generally fairly short deadlines and at lower prices than for reactors built in Europe or the United States. It is also, with Russia, the leader in civil nuclear technology. Beijing and Moscow now provide the technology for 70% of the reactors under construction in the world, far ahead of India, France, South Korea, the United States and Japan.