skip to main content

Title: Global warming and nuclear power

Nuclear fission power reactors represent a potential solution to many aspects of global change possibly induced by inputting of either particulate or carbon or sulfur oxides into the Earth`s atmosphere. Of proven technological feasibility, they presently produce high-grade heat for large-scale electricity generation, space heating and industrial process-energizing around the world, without emitting greenhouse gases or atmospheric particulates; importantly, electricity production costs from the best nuclear plants presently are closely comparable with those of the best fossil-fired plants. However, a substantial number of issues currently stand between nuclear power and widespread substitution for large stationary fossil fuel-fired systems. These include perceptual ones regarding both long-term and acute operational safety, plant decommissioning, fuel reprocessing, radwaste disposal, fissile materials diversion to military purposes and - perhaps most seriously- readily quantifiable concerns regarding long-term fuel supply and total unit electrical energy cost. We sketch a road-map for proceeding from the present situation toward a nuclear power-intensive world, addressing along the way each of the concerns which presently impede widespread nuclear substitution for fossil fuels, particularly for coal in the most populous and rapidly developing portions of the world, e.g., China and India. This `design to societal specifications` approach to large-scale nuclear fission powermore » systems may lead to energy sources meeting essentially all stationary demands for high-temperature heat. Such advanced options offer a human population of ten billion the electricity supply levels currently enjoyed by Americans for 10,000 years. Nuclear power systems tailored to local needs-and-interests and having a common advanced technology base could reduce present-day world-wide C0{sub 2} emissions by two-fold, if universally employed. By application to small mobile demands, a second two-fold reduction might be attained. Even the first such halving of carbon intensivity of stationary-source energy production world-wide might permit continued slow power-demand growth in the highly developed countries and rapid development of the other 80% of the world, both without active governmental suppression of fossil fuel usage - while also stabilizing carbon input-rates into the Earth`s atmosphere. The second two-fold reduction might obviate most global warming concerns.« less
Authors:
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
289886
Report Number(s):
UCRL-JC--131306; CONF-980751--
ON: DE98057887; BR: YN0100000
DOE Contract Number:
W-7405-ENG-48
Resource Type:
Conference
Resource Relation:
Conference: 9. summer workshop innovative energy systems and CO{sub 2} stabilization, Aspen, CO (United States), 14-24 Jul 1998; Other Information: PBD: 10 Jul 1998
Research Org:
Lawrence Livermore National Lab., CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE, Washington, DC (United States)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; 29 ENERGY PLANNING AND POLICY; GREENHOUSE EFFECT; NUCLEAR POWER; POLLUTION ABATEMENT; CARBON DIOXIDE; DEVELOPING COUNTRIES; ENERGY POLICY