Nuclear power must be tripled globally to make a difference in reducing growth of greenhouse gases
Nuclear power may be a critical component in America’s energy future, but its capacity as a reliable energy source is dependent on both technical and institutional factors.
That is the assessment provided in a new research paper co-authored by Harvard Kennedy School Assistant Professor Matthew Bunn (right) and Martin B. Malin, executive director of the Managing the Atom Project at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.
The article, titled “Enabling a Nuclear Revival—And Managing Its Risks,” appears in the Fall 2009 edition of Innovations, a quarterly journal published by MIT Press.
The authors argue that for nuclear power to make a significant contribution to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, its global capacity will have to be tripled by 2050.
“To achieve this level of growth, nuclear energy must become dramatically more attractive to utilities, governments, and publics around the world,” Bunn and Malin write.
“This would require reducing costs, preventing any substantial accident, avoiding terrorist sabotage, finding politically sustainable solutions to nuclear-waste management, and ensuring that nuclear energy does not contribute (and is not seen as contributing) to the spread of nuclear weapons to proliferating states or terrorist groups.”
The article explores each of these challenges, and lays out a case for a potentially vibrant nuclear future.
“New steps to ensure safety, security, waste management, nonproliferation, and progress toward disarmament will be essential to success. All of these will require close international cooperation and stronger international institutions.
In particular, achieving the safe, secure, and peaceful growth of nuclear energy will require an IAEA with more money, more authority, more information, more technology, and more support from the U.N. Security Council,” the authors conclude.
A link to the complete article is provided in the citation below.
"Enabling a Nuclear Revival—and Managing Its Risks"
Journal Article, Innovations, volume 4, issue 4, pages 173-191 Fall 2009
Authors: Matthew Bunn, Associate Professor of Public Policy; Co-Principal Investigator, Project on Managing the Atom; Co-Principal Investigator, Energy Research, Development, Demonstration, and Deployment (ERD3) Policy Project, Martin B. Malin, Executive Director, Project on Managing the Atom
Matthew Bunn and Martin B. Malin examine the conditions needed for nuclear energy to grow on a scale large enough for it to be a significant part of the world’s response to climate change. They consider the safety, security, nonproliferation, and waste management risks associated with such growth and recommend approaches to managing these risks.
Bunn and Malin argue that although technological solutions may contribute to nuclear expansion in the coming decades, in the near term, creating the conditions for large-scale nuclear energy growth will require major international institutional innovation.
This essay appears in the special issue of the quarterly journal Innovations on energy and climate solutions titled "Energy for Change." Read the entire issue here.
Full Text of report here "Enabling a Nuclear Revival—and Managing Its Risks" (512K PDF)
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