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The future of the nuclear industry reconsidered: Risks, uncertainties, and continued promise

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  • Kessides, Ioannis N.
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    Abstract

    Skeptics point out, with some justification, that the nuclear industry's prospects were dimmed by escalating costs long before Fukushima. If history is any guide, one direct consequence of the calamity in Japan will be more stringent safety requirements and regulatory delays that will inevitably increase the costs of nuclear power and further undermine its economic viability. For nuclear power to play a major role in meeting the future global energy needs and mitigating the threat of climate change, the hazards of another Fukushima and the construction delays and costs escalation that have plagued the industry will have to be substantially reduced. One promising direction for nuclear development might be to downsize reactors from the gigawatt scale to less-complex smaller units that are more affordable. Small modular reactors (SMRs) are scalable nuclear power plant designs that promise to reduce investment risks through incremental capacity expansion; become more standardized and reduce costs through accelerated learning effects; and address concerns about catastrophic events, since they contain substantially smaller radioactive inventory. Given their lower capital requirements and small size, which makes them suitable for small electric grids, SMRs can more effectively address the energy needs of small developing countries.

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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301421512004053
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Energy Policy.

    Volume (Year): 48 (2012)
    Issue (Month): C ()
    Pages: 185-208

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:48:y:2012:i:c:p:185-208

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/enpol

    Related research

    Keywords: Nuclear power; Advanced nuclear reactors; Small modular reactors;

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    Cited by:
    1. Adela Conchado & Pedro Linares, 2010. "The Economics of New Nuclear Power Plants in Liberalized Electricity Markets," Working Papers 04-2010, Economics for Energy.
    2. Lina Escobar Rangel & François Lévêque, 2012. "Revisiting the cost escalation curse of nuclear power: New lessons from the French experience," Working Papers hal-00780566, HAL.
    3. Hartmann, Patrick & Apaolaza, Vanessa & D'Souza, Clare & Echebarria, Carmen & Barrutia, Jose M., 2013. "Nuclear power threats, public opposition and green electricity adoption: Effects of threat belief appraisal and fear arousal," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 1366-1376.
    4. Gallo-Rivera, María Teresa & Mancha-Navarro, Tomás & Garrido-Yserte, Rubén, 2013. "Application of the counterfactual method to assess of the local economic impact of a nuclear power station," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 1481-1492.
    5. Han, Charles C., 2014. "Demarketing fear: Bring the nuclear issue back to rational discourse," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 183-192.
    6. Youngho CHANG & Yanfei LI, 2014. "Non-renewable Resources in Asian Economies: Perspective of Availability, Applicability Acceptability, and Affordability," Working Papers DP-2014-04, Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA).

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