To hit Net Zero Emissions (NZE) by 2050, global nuclear power capacity must rise by 40% to 2030 and 100% by 2050.

In order to reach NZE, the IEA says that investment in new fossil fuel supply projects (oil and gas) must stop immediately, and no new coal-fired plants should be approved.

That makes nuclear buildout absolutely crucial, supporters say.

Under a NZE by 2050 scenario, nuclear energy grows by 15% between 2020 and 2030, mainly reflecting expansions in China.

Global nuclear capacity additions then reach a peak of 30GW per year during the 2030s — five times the rate of the past decade.

The IEA report points to three important sets of decisions that governments need to make to hit these targets — power plant lifetime extensions, the pace of new construction, and advances in nuclear technology.

“Without further lifetime extensions and new projects beyond those already under construction [in advanced economies], nuclear power output in advanced economies will decline by two‐thirds over the next two decades,” IEA says.

“In emerging market and developing economies, there are decisions to be made about the pace of new nuclear power construction.

“From 2011 to 2020, an average of 6GW of new nuclear capacity came online each year.

“By 2030, the rate of new construction increases to 24GW per year in the NZE.”

The third set of decisions concerns the extent of government support for advanced nuclear technologies, particularly those related to small modular reactors and high‐temperature gas reactors, “both of which can expand markets for nuclear power beyond electricity”.

Failing to take timely decisions on nuclear power would substantially raise the cost of hitting net zero emissions and add to the risk of not meeting NZE by 2050, the IEA said.