Nuclear Power in the OECD Countries

International Energy Agency

This comprehensive overview explores the policy issues and other factors affecting the future of nuclear power in OECD countries. It provides a wealth of historical and current information of interest to both energy industry professionals and policy makers. Nuclear power has grown steadily since the early 1960s. Today it provides one quarter of OECD electricity supply from 300 GWe capacity. It is an important contributor to OECD energy security. Existing nuclear plants appear ready to meet the challenges of electricity market competition. The industry has experienced sustained improvements in technical and economic performance. A major advantage of nuclear power is that it produces none of the airborne pollutants or carbon dioxide that fossil-fuelled plants do. Nonetheless, nuclear power must cope with many challenges. New nuclear plants face formidable competition from fossil fuel generation, given nuclear power’s high capital cost and today’s fossil fuel prices. Almost half of OECD countries have placed restrictions on building nuclear power plants. Disposal facilities for high-level wastes are under development, but face technical and political hurdles before they can become operational. Can nuclear power meet these challenges and thrive in future energy markets? Or will its contribution to energy supply ebb in coming years? This book provides a critical assessment of the issues that will shape the answers to these questions.