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Environmental impact and cost analysis of coal versus nuclear power: The U.S. case


  • Vujić, Jasmina
  • Antić, Dragoljub P.
  • Vukmirović, Zorka


With all energy production systems there are environmental issues to be considered, risks to be assessed, and challenges to be addressed. It must be emphasized that an ideal energy source that is at the same time efficient, cost-effective, environment-friendly, and risk-free does not exist. There are always some necessary trade-offs to be made, in order to ensure optimal use of energy resources, while limiting environmental and health impacts. Nuclear energy is currently the only technology with a secure base-load electricity supply and no greenhouse gas emissions that has the potential to expand at a large scale. However, the spent fuel and safety issues must be addressed. Another base-load electricity source – the fossil-burning power plants – although affordable, emits various air pollutants (chemical and radioactive effluents, dust, ash, etc.), which are dispersed from a power source and transported through various pathways that could lead to the general population exposure. This paper summarizes current status and future trends in base-load electricity sources in the U.S., including environmental footprints, new regulatory requirements, and cost issues. It also presents an analysis of challenges that need to be overcome and opportunities that could us lead us closer to a sustainable energy future.

Suggested Citation

  • Vujić, Jasmina & Antić, Dragoljub P. & Vukmirović, Zorka, 2012. "Environmental impact and cost analysis of coal versus nuclear power: The U.S. case," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 31-42.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:energy:v:45:y:2012:i:1:p:31-42
    DOI: 10.1016/

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    Cited by:

    1. García, Lázaro & González, Daniel & García, Carlos & García, Laura & Brayner, Carlos, 2013. "Efficiency of the sulfur–iodine thermochemical water splitting process for hydrogen production based on ADS (accelerator driven system)," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 469-477.
    2. Allouhi, Amine & Kousksou, Tarik & Jamil, Abdelmajid & El Rhafiki, Tarik & Mourad, Youssef & Zeraouli, Youssef, 2015. "Economic and environmental assessment of solar air-conditioning systems in Morocco," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 770-781.
    3. Smeets, Niels, 2017. "Similar goals, divergent motives. The enabling and constraining factors of Russia's capacity-based renewable energy support scheme," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 138-149.
    4. Zhihua Ding & Caicai Feng & Zhenhua Liu & Guangqiang Wang & Lingyun He & Manzhi Liu, 2017. "Coal price fluctuation mechanism in China based on system dynamics model," Natural Hazards: Journal of the International Society for the Prevention and Mitigation of Natural Hazards, Springer;International Society for the Prevention and Mitigation of Natural Hazards, vol. 85(2), pages 1151-1167, January.
    5. repec:eee:energy:v:131:y:2017:i:c:p:67-77 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Alonso, Gustavo & Valle, Edmundo del, 2013. "Economical analysis of an alternative strategy for CO2 mitigation based on nuclear power," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 66-76.
    7. Aliyu, Abubakar Sadiq & Ramli, Ahmad Termizi & Saleh, Muneer Aziz, 2013. "Nigeria electricity crisis: Power generation capacity expansion and environmental ramifications," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 354-367.
    8. Ramana, M.V. & Hopkins, Laura Berzak & Glaser, Alexander, 2013. "Licensing small modular reactors," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 555-564.
    9. Cartelle Barros, Juan José & Lara Coira, Manuel & de la Cruz López, María Pilar & del Caño Gochi, Alfredo, 2016. "Probabilistic life-cycle cost analysis for renewable and non-renewable power plants," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 112(C), pages 774-787.
    10. J. G. Marques, 2014. "Environmental characteristics of the current Generation III nuclear power plants," Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Energy and Environment, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 3(2), pages 195-212, March.
    11. Nian, Victor & Chou, S.K., 2014. "The state of nuclear power two years after Fukushima – The ASEAN perspective," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 136(C), pages 838-848.
    12. Aliyu, Abubakar Sadiq & Dada, Joseph O. & Adam, Ibrahim Khalil, 2015. "Current status and future prospects of renewable energy in Nigeria," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 336-346.


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