Editorial: Nuclear technology’s role in the world’s energy supply is shrinking. Anniversaries of the Fukushima and Chernobyl disasters highlight the challenges of relying on nuclear power to cut net carbon emissions to zero. Today, nuclear power supplies about 10% of the world’s energy, down from 13% in 2010. Its use might continue to fall, although it will remain a part of the global energy mix for many decades, with a role in decarbonizing energy supplies as the fossil-fuel age comes to a close. Considering the barriers to the adoption of nuclear energy, it is not surprising that much of the nuclear energy generated around the world is produced by nuclear-weapons states. Most countries will baulk at the idea of setting up a nuclear power plant if the total bill could run to hundreds of billions of dollars. By contrast, although renewable-energy technologies are still in their relative infancy, their costs are falling and their regulation is much more straightforward. This is important: the technology used to turn on lights or charge mobile phones shouldn’t need to involve national or international defence apparatus. Clearly, nuclear energy will be with us for some time. New plants are being built and older ones will take time to decommission. But it is not proving to be the solution it was once seen as for decarbonizing the world’s energy market. Nuclear power has benefits, but its continued low take-up indicates that some countries think these are outweighed by the risks. For others, the development of nuclear energy is unaffordable. If the world is to achieve net zero carbon emissions, the focus must be on renewable energies — and one of their greatest benefits is that their sources are available, freely, to all nations.
Nature 9th March 2021 read more »
We need nuclear power to manage climate change. We can now harness the renewable energies of wind and sun to generate electricity without concomitant release of GHGs but such measures fall significantly short of meeting our total energy needs and emissions targets. These shortfalls could be made up by stepping up nuclear power that emits little or no GHG in operation but there is little enthusiasm for recruiting this option. Indeed, several European Union countries plan to phase out nuclear energy by 2030.
Irish Times 15th April 2021 read more »