Nuclear fission energy is a competitive and mature low-carbon technology, operating to high levels of safety within the EU. Most of the current designs are second generation Light Water Reactors (LWR), capable of providing base-load electricity often with availability factors of over 90%. The ageing of Europe’s nuclear reactors and the requirements for secure, cost-efficient and low-carbon energy systems will require a substantial investment in construction and development of nuclear reactors.
Most of the expansion in the next decades will be from large, Generation III light water reactors, with commercial fast Generation IV reactors on the horizon for 2040. There are new opportunities for nuclear power arising from increasing electricity demand and facilitating the integration of variable renewable energy by providing load balancing capacity to the electricity grid, as well as replacing carbon-based technologies in various heat applications. Challenges include public concerns about the safety of nuclear power plants and the final disposal of waste.