The energy sources of the future in the short and long term

The energy sources of the future in the short and long term

31 August 2021 from Anna Svahn

In order to meet the global climate goals, it is necessary for the whole world to quickly switch to clean energy production. Despite this, fossil fuels (coal power, oil and gas) accounted for over 84 percent of the world's energy in 2019, and although it sounds hopelessly high, it is still significantly less than in the 1970s with 94 percent. Although fossil fuels still make up the majority of global energy consumption, other alternatives are emerging at the same time, and they are doing so rapidly. For those who want to invest in the energy of the future, there are many options.

Global energy consumption in 2019 amounted to 173,340 TWh. Since 2011, the average increase per year has been about 1.6 percent. As consumption decreases for years during recessions and economic crises, we can assume, however, that consumption fell in 2020 and also in 2021 as a result of the pandemic and its consequences.

In the long run, there is no doubt about where we are going when it comes to the source of energy. Renewable energy sources are increasing the most, while fossil fuels are declining at the same rate. The question is, however, whether it is enough, when even the total demand increases by a couple of percent annually, which causes the total volume of fossil fuels to remain at the same levels or even rise. It is simply not possible to stop climate change with relative numbers, we must ensure that the absolute volume of fossil fuels falls - and quickly.

Of the total approximately 173,000 TWh of energy, nuclear power accounted for 4.3 percent. Although the masses seem to be divided over the use of more nuclear power globally, it seems that during a transitional period it could be our only option to be able to really shift from a majority of fossil fuels to energy sources with low or no emissions. Today, 445 nuclear power plants are in use worldwide, with the United States as by far the largest user, and even the Biden administration is cautiously positive about nuclear power in order to achieve the goal of making the United States climate-neutral by 2050.

In addition to the 445 nuclear power plants already in use, another 51 are now being built globally. Of these, 18 are built in China alone. These are expected to be ready and in use between 2022-2027. Could it be that we are in a situation where, in order to really succeed in reducing emissions, we simply do not have a choice that, in parallel with continuing to innovate in renewable energy, also increase the proportion that comes from nuclear power?

What speaks in favor of this development is China's and Russia's focus on building nuclear power. Today, there are 51 operational nuclear power plants in China, and with the 18 more currently being built, capacity is expected to increase by almost 35 percent, which is in line with China's plan to reduce fossil fuels over time. Russia also has grand plans when it comes to increasing its nuclear power, as well as India and most other countries in Asia.

What then does the expansion of nuclear power mean that we see globally? Although there are divided opinions about whether this is a positive development or not for the world, it is clear that the trend is here. We already have problems with delivering uranium to the power plants that are already in use, and despite new mines being built, the problem will continue as we expand more nuclear power, which in the coming years speaks for an upside in the uranium price.

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30/09/2022 14:17:04


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