Thursday, January 14, 2016

Can Nuclear Power Meet the Challenges of Global CO2 Mitigation?

Potential for Worldwide Displacement of Fossil-Fuel Electricity by Nuclear Energy in Three Decades Based on Extrapolation of Regional Deployment Data (10 page pdf, Staffan A. Qvist, Barry W. Brook, PLoS One(Public Library of Science) , May 13, 2015)

Also discussed here: The World Really Could Go Nuclear Nothing but fear and capital stand in the way of a nuclear-powered future (David Biello, Scientific American, Sep. 14, 2015

Today we review an article that concludes that all carbon fuelled power plants worldwide can be replaced in a little over 30 years with modern nuclear power plants. All that is required is public acceptance, government will and investment in the technology, making use of the experience gained over the last 50 years, as demonstrated prominently by France and more recently by Sweden. The most vocal arguments from the lay pubic against nuclear power focus on the high costs but these are expected to drop significantly as Type 4 reactors are brought onstream which can recycle spent nuclear fuel and uranium and use this as a resource. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) expects nuclear power to expand worldwide by 2030 as more reactors are built in Asia and the Middle East.

 nuclear option  

Key Quotes:

“In just two decades Sweden went from burning oil for generating electricity to fissioning uranium. And if the world as a whole were to follow that example, all fossil fuel–fired power plants could be replaced with nuclear facilities in a little over 30 years”

“Between 1960 and 1990 Sweden more than doubled its inflation-adjusted gross domestic product (GDP) per capita while reducing its per capita CO2emissions through a rapid expansion of nuclear power production….By 1986, with the addition of 11 more reactors, half of Sweden's electricity came from nuclear power and carbon dioxide emissions per Swede had dropped by 75 percent compared to the peak in 1970.”

"The mantra 'nuclear can't be done quickly enough to tackle climate change' is one of the most pervasive in the debate today and mostly just taken as true, while the data prove the exact opposite." “from the experience of Sweden and France and scaled up to the globe, a best-case scenario for conversion to 100 percent nuclear power could enable the world to stop burning fossil fuels and start fissioning uranium for electricity within 34 years.”

“while the cost of construction is currently stable or falling in these countries, a global expansion of nuclear power would mean increased operating costs as the price of uranium ore and fuel is driven up, at least until generation IV reactors that use recycled spent nuclear fuel and depleted uranium or thorium as their input, become widespread and economically competitive”

"The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) does expect nuclear power to expand worldwide by 2030 as more reactors are built in Asia and the Middle East—and use of nuclear could grow as much as 68 percent by then if all proposed reactors were built.”

“Even role model Sweden is mulling over retiring its reactors, having already shut down the two at Barseback early. As a result, an additional hundreds of millions of metric tons of CO2 are being dumped into Earth’s atmosphere, as more fossil fuels are burned to replace that lost nuclear power”

“No renewable energy technology or energy efficiency approach has ever been implemented on a scale or pace which has resulted in the magnitude of reductions in CO2 -emissions that is strictly required and implied in any climate change mitigation study—neither locally nor globally, normalized by population or GDP or any other normalization parameter.”

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