Nuclear energy is becoming increasingly important due to its low environmental impact and high capacity factor. It releases less radiation to the environment than any other major energy source, and its capacity factor is much higher than that of renewable energy sources or fossil fuels. Nuclear energy is also a clean energy source with no emissions, making it an attractive option for those looking to reduce their carbon footprint. However, the same technology used to make nuclear fuel for power plants can also be used to produce explosive material for nuclear weapons.
This means that nuclear power plants require considerable investment to build, but have low operating costs and longevity. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has been working to protect the earth and its citizens from the serious risks that nuclear energy entails since the 1970s. The strength of Russia's nuclear industry is reflected in its dominance of export markets for new reactors, and previous IAEA projections had suggested significantly stronger growth prospects for nuclear energy. This was very positive with respect to nuclear energy and said that it can make a significant contribution to the energy transformation process and is a key source of low-carbon electricity generation that will keep system costs and electricity prices low.
With rising sea levels and increasing frequency and severity of extreme weather events, risks to operational and decommissioned nuclear power plants that store nuclear waste in situ continue to increase. The IAEA low case projection represents a continuation of current trends in technology and market resources with little change in policies affecting nuclear energy. Any major increase in the baseload capacity requirement will have significant upside potential for nuclear energy if there are restrictions on carbon emissions. What happens to plans to build new nuclear plants will significantly affect the chances of achieving clean energy transitions.
In addition to commercial nuclear power plants, there are about 220 research reactors operating in more than 50 countries, and more are under construction. Interest is growing in advanced nuclear technologies that adapt to private investment, such as small modular reactors (SMR). We are part of the EDF Group, with 58 nuclear reactors in France and a total of 78 reactors worldwide. Providing a quarter of the world's electricity through nuclear energy would substantially reduce carbon dioxide emissions and improve air quality.
Nuclear plants can help limit the impacts of seasonal fluctuations in renewable energy production and strengthen energy security by reducing dependence on imported fuels.