on nuclear energy should be based not on hope buton solid answers to six questions:
Can nuclear power signicantly enhance energy security?
Can nuclear power contribute signicantly toneeded reductions in carbon emissions?
Is nuclear power economically competitive?
Can saety be assured or a greatly expanded num-ber o nuclear reactors and associated acilities?
Is an acceptable solution or nuclear waste inplace or soon to be available?
Can nuclear power be expanded in such a way asto adequately control the added risks o pro-lieration?
cn N Powenn eng Si?
Rising prices o oil and natural gas have had a cas-cading eect on countries’ concerns about energy security. Price disputes have resulted in temporary cutos o natural gas supplies in Europe in the pastew years. But most countries will not be able toreduce their dependence on oreign oil by buildingnuclear power plants. Nuclear power—because itcurrently only provides electricity—is inherently limited in its ability to reduce this dependence. Inthe United States, or example, 40 percent o theenergy consumed comes rom oil, yet oil producesonly 1.6 percent o electricity. And even thoughFrance and Japan rely heavily on nuclear energy,they have been unable to reduce their dependenceon oreign oil because o oil’s importance or trans-portation and industry. Worldwide, the picture is similar. Oil accountsor about 7 percent o power generation globally,a share that is expected to decline to 3 percent by 2030. Only in the Middle East, where countriesrely on oil or about 30 percent o their electricity generation, could substitution o nuclear power oroil make a signicant dierence. Until transporta-tion switches to electricity as its uel, nuclear en-ergy largely will not displace oil.Te situation is dierent or natural gas. Although natural gas also has industrial and heat-ing uses, it produces about one-th o electric-ity worldwide. Natural gas is attractive as a way to produce electricity because gas-red generatingplants are very ecient at converting primary en-ergy into electricity and also cheap to build, com-pared with coal- and nuclear-red plants. Nuclearenergy could displace natural gas or electricity production and improve some countries’ stability o energy supply.Ultimately, however, countries may be tradingone orm o energy dependence or another. Giventhe structure o the nuclear industry and uraniumresource distribution, most countries will need toimport uel, technology, and reactor components,as well as uel services. Tis means that ew coun-tries can expect more than
, even when it comes to nuclear power.
cn N Pow coni oconoing ci cng?
Nuclear power is not a near-term solution to thechallenge o climate change. Te need to imme-diately and dramatically reduce carbon emissionscalls or approaches that can be implemented morequickly than building nuclear reactors. It also callsor actions that span all energy applications, not just electricity. Improved eciency in residentialand commercial buildings, industry, and transportis the rst choice among all options in virtually all analyses o the problem. Nuclear energy willremain an option among eorts to control climatechange, but given the maximum rate at which new reactors can be built, much new construction willsimply oset the retirement o nuclear reactorsbuilt decades ago.For nuclear energy to make a larger dierencein meeting the challenge o climate change, theindustry would need to add capacity exceeding re-placement levels. According to a 2007 study by theKeystone Center, this would require “the industry to return immediately to the most rapid period o growth experienced in the past (1981–1990) andsustain this rate o growth or 50 years.” Tis wouldmean completing twenty-one to twenty-ve new,large (1,000 megawatts electric) plants each yearthrough 2050. Yet the global nuclear construction industry hasshrunk. In the past twenty years, there have beenewer than ten new reactor construction starts worldwide in any given year. oday there are al-ready bottlenecks in the global supply chain, in-cluding ultra-heavy orgings, large manuactured
is a seniorassociate in the Nonprolierationprogram at the Carnegie Endow-ment and has been analyzingnonprolieration, arms control,and national security issues ortwo decades. Her research ocuseson nuclear nonprolieration andnational security. Squassoni cameto Carnegie rom the Congres-sional Research Service (CRS).As a specialist in weapons omass destruction prolieration,she provided expert analyses onprolieration trends and expertadvice on policy and legislationto members o Congress. Prior to joining CRS, she served or nineyears in the executive branch,beginning her government careeras a nuclear saeguards expert inthe Arms Control and Disarma-ment Agency. Her last position atthe State Department was direc-tor o Policy Coordination in theNonprolieration Bureau. Squas-soni has contributed to journals,magazines, and books on nuclearprolieration and deense. Hermost recent publications include:“The Iranian Nuclear Program,” achapter in the orthcoming book,
Combating Weapons of MassDestruction: The Future of Inter-national Nonproliferation Policy
(University o Georgia Press,2009) and “Risks and Realities:The ‘New Nuclear Revival,’”