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Article
Limitations of Nuclear Power as a Sustainable Energy Source
Deptartment of Materials Science and Engineering Publications
  • Joshua M. Pearce, Michigan Technological University
Document Type
Article
Publication Date
6-7-2012
Abstract
This paper provides a review and analysis of the challenges that nuclear power must overcome in order to be considered sustainable. The results make it clear that not only do innovative technical solutions need to be generated for the fundamental inherent environmental burdens of nuclear energy technology, but the nuclear industry must also address difficult issues of equity both in the present and for future generations. The results show that if the concept of just sustainability is applied to the nuclear energy sector a global large-scale sustainable nuclear energy system to replace fossil fuel combustion requires the following: (i) a radical improvement in greenhouse gas emissions intensity by improved technology and efficiency through the entire life cycle to prevent energy cannibalism during rapid growth; (ii) the elimination of nuclear insecurity to reduce the risks associated with nuclear power so that the free market can indemnify it without substantial public nuclear energy insurance subsidies; (iii) the elimination of radioactive waste at the end of life and minimization of environmental impact during mining and operations; and (iv) the nuclear industry must regain public trust or face obsolescence as a swarm of renewable energy technologies quickly improve both technical and economic performance.
Publisher's Statement

© 2012 by the author, Joshua M. Pearce; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. Deposited here in compliance with publisher policies. Publisher's version of record: http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/su4061173

Version
Publisher's PDF
Citation Information
Pearce, Joshua M. (2012). Limitations of Nuclear Power as a Sustainable Energy Source. Sustainability, 4(6), 1173-1187. http://digitalcommons.mtu.edu/materials_fp/19