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Energy System Expectations for Nuclear in the 21st Century: A Plausible Range

[+] Author Affiliations
Lucille M. Langlois, Alan McDonald, Hans-Holger Rogner, Ivan Vera

International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna, Austria

Paper No. ICONE10-22499, pp. 897-904; 8 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


This paper outlines a range of scenarios describing what the world’s energy system might look like in the middle of the century, and what nuclear energy’s most profitable role might be. The starting point is the 40 non-greenhouse-gas-mitigation scenarios in the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2000). Given their international authorship and comprehensive review by governments and scientific experts, the SRES scenarios are the state of the art in long-term energy scenarios. However, they do not present the underlying energy system structures in enough detail for specific energy technology and infrastructure analyses. This paper therefore describes initial steps within INPRO (the International Project on Innovative Nuclear Reactors and Fuel Cycles of the International Atomic Energy Agency) to translate the SRES results into a range of possible nuclear energy technology requirements for mid-century. The paper summarizes the four SRES scenarios that will be used in INPRO and the reasons for their selection. It provides illustrative examples of the sort of additional detail that is being developed about the overall energy system implied by each scenario, and about specific scenario features particularly relevant to nuclear energy. As recommended in SRES, the selected scenarios cover all four SRES “storyline families.” The energy system translations being developed in INPRO are intended to indicate how energy services may be provided in mid-century and to delineate likely technology and infrastructure implications. They will indicate answers to questions like the following. The list is illustrative, not comprehensive. • What kind of nuclear power plants will best fit the mid-century energy system? • What energy forms and other products and services provided by nuclear reactors will best fit the mid-century energy system? • What would be their market shares? • How difficult will it be to site new nuclear facilities? • Which are nuclear energy’s biggest competitors? • Which non-nuclear technologies can nuclear power complement? • What is the range of potential demand growth for new capacity? • How is demand growth distributed geographically around the world? Different scenarios imply different answers, which are then the starting point for estimating what future reactor users might require of reactor and fuel cycle designs around mid-century. These user requirements — in terms of economics, safety, proliferation resistance, waste, and environmental impacts — are intended to help establish key directions in which to encourage innovation. They are intended as a useful input to managers designing R&D strategies targeted on the anticipated energy system needs, and other relevant needs, of mid-century.

Copyright © 2002 by ASME



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