Climate change, nuclear power, and nuclear proliferation: Magnitude matters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

Integrated energy, environment, and economics modeling suggests that worldwide electrical energy use will increase to ~12 TWe in 2100. Due to limitations of other low-carbon energy sources, nuclear power may be required to provide ~30% of world electrical energy by 2100. Calculations of the associated stocks and flows of uranium, plutonium, and minor actinides indicate that the proliferation risks at mid-century, using current light-water reactor technology, are daunting. There are institutional arrangements that may be able to provide an acceptable level of risk mitigation, but they will be difficult to implement. If a transition is begun to fast-spectrum reactors at midcentury, the global nuclear proliferation risks become much greater by 2100, and more resistant to mitigation. Fusion energy, if successfully demonstrated to be economically competitive, would provide a source of nuclear power with much lower proliferation risks than fission.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)130-165
Number of pages36
JournalScience and Global Security
Volume19
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Engineering(all)

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