Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Can Nuclear Power Deliver?

At the beginning of the new year, SEAL is pleased to introduce its new paper 'Can Nuclear Power Deliver?'. Based on literature review and expert interviews, SEAL's 13th briefing paper provides an overview of arguments in the nuclear debate.

Nuclear peril
  • Waste: technical solutions exist, but lack of a political
    agreement
  • Proliferation: can and needs to be managed
  • Nuclear safety: an issue for older nuclear plants, but
    promising 'passive safety' designs for new reactors

The nuclear promise
  • The power of the atom: a fistful of matter holding enough
    energy to power a city of a million for a year
  • Climate change mitigation: each major nuclear power station
    saves 6 million tonne of greenhouse gasses per year compared to fossil-based electricity
    generation
  • Energy security: abundant energy supply when using advanced
    reprocessing and fast neutron reactors

From peril to promise
  • Public opinion - taken hostage by extremes
  • Technology: extremely complex scientific & technical
    challenges need global cooperation and a 'man on the moon' momentum

Conclusion

Nuclear technology needs to address its problems, and holds tremendous promise if it does. The 'nuclear option' does not represent a single option, but offers many choices on building additional reactors, a moratorium ( no new reactors), phaseout (reduce existing reactors), reactor types, waste processing and R&D expenditure.

When excluding all nuclear options, a plan is needed how to build an energy system without it. The fact that we yet have to see such a (transparent) plan may relate to the fact that the numbers simply do not add up without the use of nuclear energy.

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