Energy Security in the Age of Net-Zero Ambitions and the System Value of Nuclear Power

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Ensuring a ready supply of electricity at an affordable price is vital to the functioning of modern societies and its importance is only set to grow as sectors, including transport and heat, are increasingly electrified.

Moreover, safeguarding electricity security will be a prerequisite to meeting the two great energy challenges that we currently face, the transition to decarbonisation and delivering energy access for all.

This report analyses the likely threats to electricity security that may arise in the coming years and compares how different sources of electricity contribute towards it. 

The report concludes with an in-depth exploration of the electricity security risks specific to nuclear power throughout the lifecycle of a nuclear project.

Policy Recommendations:

  1. Promote and Preserve a Diverse, Low-Carbon Generation Mix: The brittleness, or lack of resilience, of a given energy system is to a large extent determined by its reliance on a single or few energy sources, provided by a single or few suppliers and technologies, for the majority of its energy requirements. The often-political phase-out of nuclear power should be discouraged and instead the valuable characteristics of nuclear power in relation to the preservation of energy security must be both made clear and given proper place in policy discussions.
  2. Ensure that Energy System Planning is Integrated, Long-Term, and System-Level: The introduction of interim climate targets, such as the target for the share of renewable generation adopted by the European Union, has to be compatible with the long-term transition to a decarbonised world. The value, to energy security as well as decarbonisation, of firm, low-carbon power, as provided by nuclear plants as well as hydropower facilities, is not fully captured in markets for electricity at present.
  3. Stimulate the Nuclear Export Market: A key determinant of system resilience is diversity and so an increase in the diversity of participants in the nuclear export market ought to be encouraged, with the added benefit that doing so would likely benefit the vendor nation via the positive impact that nuclear development has on industrial strategy, in terms of jobs, economic multipliers, and so on.

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