The world's nuclear power capacity could grow by nearly 45 per cent in the next 20 years, according to a report from the World Nuclear Association (WNA).
Generation is predicted to grow to 552 gigawatts equivalent (GWe) by 2035 from the current 379GWe, as many countries build new plants as a lower-carbon option and for energy security, but the WNA's Nuclear Fuel report says that pace of growth will fall short of what is needed to curb climate change.
Estimates from the International Energy Agency say nuclear capacity needs to reach 660GWe by 2030 and more than 900GWe by 2050 to limit global temperature rises to 2°C this century, but this would require $81bn (£53bn) a year investment in new nuclear plants from 2014 to 2040 according to the report.
"Nuclear electricity output is set to increase at a faster rate over the next five years than we have seen for more than two decades," said Agneta Rising, director general of the WNA.
"More must be done so that nuclear energy can make the contribution being asked of it, to deliver a clean, affordable and reliable electricity supply in harmony with other low-carbon options."
The pace of growth means the world is likely to need 103,000 tonnes of elemental uranium (tU) by 2035, up from 62,000 tU now, the report said, but uranium production has stalled in recent times due to depressed uranium prices curtailing exploration activities and the opening of new mines.
If all planned mines and those under development start up as forecast, the market should still be adequately supplied to 2025, but there will be a need for additional supplies and projects soon after.