Affordable, clean & reliable energy is essential to modernity. The energy sector needs to face the dual challenges of satiating growing demand from the developing world while addressing climate change. Distributed, low-carbon energy sources are displacing centralized, polluting sources while smart and autonomous electric mobility has the potential to upend the transportation landscape.
According to World Bank statistics, the global per-capita primary energy consumption has been compounding annually at 1% for the last 30 years. This trend is intact even in the 5 years that ended in 2011. All the while, global population has been compounding at 1.1-1.2% over the last 5-20 year period.
Paris Agreement on Climate Change
During 2015 and 2016 nearly 200 countries have signed on to the Paris Agreement at the UN Climate Conference COP21. It is a resounding acknowledgement of the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as global temperatures continue to rise aggressively.
Renewable energy sources will continue to grow at a fast clip, but their intermittency destabilizes electricity grids. Steady ‘baseload’ power will be necessary to maintain system inertia. Coal remains the predominant base-load source, electrifying 41% of the world. Coal's share decline over the next decades presents a long runway for the alternatives. As nuclear and natural gas fight for base-load share, nuclear’s advantage is lower emissions and less volatility.
Nuclear reactors provide 11.5% of the world’s electricity. In the U.S. nuclear contributes 1/5 of grid power, but account for ~2/3 of the low-carbon electricity.