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Nuclear power's complexities emerge in the age of climate change

The picture is complicated by a debate over safety and environmental concerns, and by IAEA's roles as both a global watchdog against proliferation of nuclear weapons and a leading promoter of peaceful uses of atomic energy.

Switzerland's Gösgen Nuclear Power Plant
Switzerland's Gösgen Nuclear Power Plant (AN/J. Heilprin)

VIENNA (AN) — The U.N.'s atomic watchdog agency released two reports this month that together capture nuclear power's incongruity. Its economic appeal is uncertain, but it has relative advantages in fighting climate change.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, reported earlier this month the nuclear industry could have a shrinking role as an electricity provider due to its "reduced competitiveness." Nuclear power produced just 10% of the world’s electricity in 2017. That share is likely to fall further with the closure of aging nuclear plants that can't compete with lower-cost energy sources.

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