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Criteria for Global Nuclear Energy Development

[+] Author Affiliations
Michael J. Lawrence

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA

Paper No. ICONE10-22079, pp. 511-515; 5 pages
  • 10th International Conference on Nuclear Engineering
  • 10th International Conference on Nuclear Engineering, Volume 2
  • Arlington, Virginia, USA, April 14–18, 2002
  • Conference Sponsors: Nuclear Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 0-7918-3596-0 | eISBN: 0-7918-3589-8
  • Copyright © 2002 by ASME


Global energy consumption will at least double over the next fifty years due to population growth, increased consumption, and an urgent need to improve the standard of living in under-developed countries. Thirty percent of this growth will be for electricity. At the same time, carbon emissions must be significantly reduced to respond to concerns regarding global warming. The use of nuclear energy to meet this growing electricity demand without carbon emissions is an obvious solution to many observers, however real concerns over economics, safety, waste and proliferation must be adequately addressed. The issue is further complicated by the fact that developing countries, which have the most pressing need for additional electricity generation, have the least capability and infrastructure to deploy nuclear energy. Nevertheless, if the specific needs of developing countries are appropriately considered now as new generation reactors are being developed, and institutional arrangements based upon the fundamental principles of President Eisenhower’s 1953 Atoms For Peace speech are followed, nuclear energy could be deployed in any country. From a technical perspective, reactor safety and accessibility of special nuclear material are primary concerns. Institutionally, plant and fuel ownership and waste management issues must be addressed. International safety and safeguards authority are prerequisites. While the IAEA’s IMPRO program and the United States’ Generation IV programs are focusing on technical solutions, institutional issues, particularly with regard to deployment in developing countries, are not receiving corresponding attention. Full-service, cradle-to-grave, nuclear electricity companies that retain custody and responsibility for the plant and materials, including waste, are one possible solution. Small modular reactors such as the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor could be ideal for such an arrangement. While waste disposal remains a major obstacle, this is already true for numerous nuclear programs even in developed countries with limited geologically suitable formations. Fortunately, several organizations are currently pursuing international solutions to the nuclear waste disposal problem. While the capability to deploy nuclear energy in a specific country may not be desirable for a number of reasons, we should not develop nuclear hardware that can only benefit and serve technically and economically advanced countries. The potential benefits of nuclear energy are global, and we should not unduly limit that potential by inattention today to the requirements necessary for global deployment.

Copyright © 2002 by ASME
Topics: Nuclear power



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