Interior showing the reactor hall in Forsmark nuclear power plant, Sweden. Forsmark has three boiling water reactors and is situated on the Swedish east coast. Credit: Matthew Pacey. Acessed via Flickr. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Is nuclear power sustainable in a carbon-free world? The case of Sweden.

By Robert Rosner, Sabrina Fields, November 15, 2021

https://thebulletin.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/rosner-photo-1-150x150.jpg

Interior showing the reactor hall in Forsmark nuclear power plant, Sweden. Forsmark has three boiling water reactors and is situated on the Swedish east coast. Credit: Matthew Pacey. Acessed via Flickr. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Most scientists and policymakers agree that the energy sector, especially electricity generation, needs to be largely decarbonized by the turn of this century, but they differ on the means by which decarbonization should be accomplished. A variety of low-carbon emission energy technologies currently compete, ranging from fuel-free renewable technologies such as hydroelectric power and wind, solar, and tidal power to fuel-dependent technologies such as biofueled thermal power, nuclear energy, and fossil fuel-based thermal power coupled to efficient carbon capture and sequestration or reuse.[1]

Ultimately, this competition will be settled on the basis of technological readiness and capability, cost competitiveness, and specific technological constraints. For example, hydropower requires building new dams and storage reservoirs, which leads to environmental impacts; biofuels compete with food production for arable land; carbon capture and storage requires safe carbon dioxide storage sites; and nuclear power has raised questions about the safety of both the nuclear power plants and the long-term storage of nuclear waste, as well as the possible role played by nuclear power in nuclear weapon proliferation.

Acknowledgements:  This work was supported by the Energy Policy Institute of Chicago (EPIC) at the University of Chicago. We would like to thank Lindsay Krall of SKB and Ingrid Nohlgren of Chalmers Industriteknik for both helpful comments and for assisting us with the identification of data sources.

 

As the coronavirus crisis shows, we need science now more than ever.

The Bulletin elevates expert voices above the noise. But as an independent, nonprofit media organization, our operations depend on the support of readers like you. Help us continue to deliver quality journalism that holds leaders accountable. Your support of our work at any level is important. In return, we promise our coverage will be understandable, influential, vigilant, solution-oriented, and fair-minded. Together we can make a difference.


Get alerts about this thread
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments