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

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  • Kessides, Ioannis N.

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Kessides, Ioannis N., 2012. "The future of the nuclear industry reconsidered: Risks, uncertainties, and continued promise," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 185-208.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:48:y:2012:i:c:p:185-208
    DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2012.05.008
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. 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).
    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. Verbruggen, Aviel & Laes, Erik & Lemmens, Sanne, 2014. "Assessment of the actual sustainability of nuclear fission power," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 16-28.
    4. Contu, Davide & Strazzera, Elisabetta & Mourato, Susana, 2016. "Modeling individual preferences for energy sources: The case of IV generation nuclear energy in Italy," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 127(C), pages 37-58.
    5. repec:eee:enepol:v:107:y:2017:i:c:p:138-150 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. repec:eee:enepol:v:115:y:2018:i:c:p:616-630 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Lina Escobar Rangel and Francois Leveque, 2015. "Revisiting the Cost Escalation Curse of Nuclear Power: New Lessons from the French Experience," Economics of Energy & Environmental Policy, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 2).
    8. Brookes, Naomi J. & Locatelli, Giorgio, 2015. "Power plants as megaprojects: Using empirics to shape policy, planning, and construction management," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 57-66.
    9. repec:eee:energy:v:125:y:2017:i:c:p:736-746 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Linares, Pedro & Conchado, Adela, 2013. "The economics of new nuclear power plants in liberalized electricity markets," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(S1), pages 119-125.
    11. Huhtala, Anni & Remes, Piia, 2017. "Quantifying the social costs of nuclear energy: Perceived risk of accident at nuclear power plants," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 320-331.
    12. Iyer, Gokul & Hultman, Nathan & Fetter, Steve & Kim, Son H., 2014. "Implications of small modular reactors for climate change mitigation," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 144-154.
    13. Han, Charles C., 2014. "Demarketing fear: Bring the nuclear issue back to rational discourse," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 183-192.
    14. Huhtala, Anni & Remes, Piia, 2016. "Dimming Hopes for Nuclear Power: Quantifying the Social Costs of Perceptions of Risks," Working Papers 57, VATT Institute for Economic Research.
    15. Hong, Sanghyun & Bradshaw, Corey J.A. & Brook, Barry W., 2015. "Global zero-carbon energy pathways using viable mixes of nuclear and renewables," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 143(C), pages 451-459.
    16. 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.
    17. 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.

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