The Future of Nuclear Power - An Interdisciplinary MIT Study by Eric S. Beckjord

By Eric S. Beckjord

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By Eric S. Beckjord

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Thus, the 1000 GWe nuclear program has the potential of displacing 15 - 25% of the anticipated growth in anthropogenic carbon emissions. In 2050, deployment of 1000 Gwe of nuclear power would generate about 20% of worldwide electricity production, if electricity production grows at 2% per year. Evidently, the global growth scenario would have nuclear power generating significant amounts of electricity that would otherwise likely be generated by fossil fuels. FUTURE STRUCTURE OF THE NUCLEAR INDUSTRY Significant expansion of nuclear power has implications for the structure of its supporting nuclear industry infrastructure.

Similar analysis for Europe and especially Japan and Korea would be somewhat more favorable to nuclear, since gas and coal costs are typically higher than in the United States. We start with a “base case” that examines the levelized real life-cycle costs of nuclear, coal, and CCGT generating technology using assumptions that we believe commercial investors would be expected to use today to evaluate the costs of the alternative generation options. The levelized cost is the constant real wholesale price of electricity that meets a private investor’s financing cost, debt repayment, income tax, and associated cash flow constraints.

On the other hand, Finland has decided on a path to manage spent fuel, and the United States has decided to proceed with licensing of Yucca Mountain as a geological repository. At the same time, many of the discussions surrounding alternative reactors and fuel cycles are motivated by a desire to reduce high-level waste management challenges. The potential impact on the public from safety or waste management failure and the link to nuclear explosives technology are unique to nuclear energy among energy supply options.

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