The challenge of climate change will be more difficult and costly to solve unless nuclear energy is included in the energy mix, according to a newly released study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Energy Initiative (MITEI).
The future of nuclear energy in a carbon-constrained world analyses the reasons behind a slowdown in nuclear energy growth and outlines measures that could be taken to arrest or reverse that trend, including moves to reduce the cost of building new nuclear capacity and creating a level market that would allow all low-carbon generation technologies to compete on equal terms.
Without nuclear contribution, the cost of achieving deep decarbonisation targets increases significantly
"Our analysis demonstrates that realizing nuclear energy's potential is essential to achieving a deeply decarbonised energy future in many regions of the world", study co-chair Jacopo Buongiorno, associate department head of the Nuclear Science and Engineering Department of MIT, said. "Incorporating new policy and business models, as well as innovations in construction that may make deployment of cost-effective nuclear power plants more affordable, could enable nuclear energy to help meet the growing global demand for energy generation while decreasing emissions to address climate change", he added.
The world is facing the challenge of drastically reducing emissions of greenhouse gases, the report notes. In this context, a variety of low –or zero- carbon technologies can be employed in various combinations, our analysis shows the potential contribution nuclear can make as a dispatchable low-carbon technology. Without that contribution, the cost of achieving deep decarbonisation targets increases significantly", the study finds.
MIT includes a variety of recommendations in this report in order to reduce the costs of construction for new nuclear power plants and to achieve an equal market and notes that "Policies that foreclose a role for nuclear energy discourage investment in nuclear technology. This may raise the cost of decarbonisation and slow progress towards climate change mitigations goals".