Friday, April 07, 2006

Double or Quits? The Global Future of Civil Nuclear Energy

Double or Quits: The Future of Civil Nuclear EnergyBy Malcolm C Grimston & Peter Beck

This book argues for the nuclear industry and governments to take action to ensure that nuclear power remains available as a practical option. Such action needs to take place on 5 fronts: public perception, economics, waste (including reprocessing and proliferation), safety and R&D.

Nuclear has already received its first chance in the 70's and 80's, during which time several governments have provided substantial resources to a nuclear programme. This has resulted in an industry which generates about one sixth of the world's electricity, with an impressive safety records and without the emission of greenhouse gasses. However, nuclear electricity has not delivered on economics. And views are divided between supporters and opponents on the outcomes of nuclear's first chance.

A second chance for nuclear electricity will depend on a number of factors, some within the industry's control, but many beyond its control: will fossil fuels remain available? at what price? will renewables fulfil the predictions of its supporters? how severe will be the impact of climate change? ... Moreover, a healthy nuclear industry will be needed to develop new generation reactor types, novel waste management techniques and attract the young and brightest engineers and scientists. But all these needs are at the same time preconditions for a healthy nuclear industry.

But other energy technologies are equally not without challenges. In summary, the authors identify 2 key issues: to enable decision making to assess whether R&D concepts can be successful in commercialisation and decision-making structures that can manage the complex issues surrounding nuclear power. 'Double or Quits' is essential reading for all who wish to explore under what circumstances nuclear energy might make a positive contribution.

No comments: