Article

US nuclear power: The vanishing low-carbon wedge

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Abstract

Nuclear power holds the potential to make a significant contribution to decarbonizing the US energy system. Whether it could do so in its current form is a critical question: Existing large light water reactors in the United States are under economic pressure from low natural gas prices, and some have already closed. Moreover, because of their great cost and complexity, it appears most unlikely that any new large plants will be built over the next several decades. While advanced reactor designs are sometimes held up as a potential solution to nuclear power's challenges, our assessment of the advanced fission enterprise suggests that no US design will be commercialized before midcentury. That leaves factory-manufactured, light water small modular reactors (SMRs) as the only option that might be deployed at significant scale in the climate-critical period of the next several decades. We have systematically investigated how a domestic market could develop to support that industry over the next several decades and, in the absence of a dramatic change in the policy environment, have been unable to make a convincing case. Achieving deep decarbonization of the energy system will require a portfolio of every available technology and strategy we can muster. It should be a source of profound concern for all who care about climate change that, for entirely predictable and resolvable reasons, the United States appears set to virtually lose nuclear power, and thus a wedge of reliable and low-carbon energy, over the next few decades.

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... While there are many types of conceptual SMR designs from many vendors around the world, the NuScale iPWR design is the only SMR to submit an Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) design certification [4,5]. Based on NuScale's progress in the design certification process, the near-term deployment of commercial iPWR SMRs in the US are more likely than the generation IV designs [5e9]. ...
... Level 3 PRAs estimate the consequences related to exposure to the public after the release of radionuclides into the environment. 5 It is assumed that the AP1000 does not apply convective flows as an incontainment vessel aerosol removal natural process [28]. 6 NUREG-1940 [31] outlines the core inventory of radionuclide during operation by thermal capacity. ...
... With respect to decarbonization, nuclear power produces less life cycle greenhouse gas emissions than other forms of power generation [45,46]. Morgan et al. (2018) argues because the US will lose a large portion of its nuclear fleet due to economic pressure from low natural gas prices and recent efforts to build new capacity has stalled, the US will lose an energy source that is equally reliable and a low-carbon wedge [5]. While there are large uncertainties related to the capital cost of iPWRs, cost reductions can be achieved through added safety and higher capacity factors with longer periods between refueling. ...
Article
It has been argued that risk and performance-based approaches to licensing would be appropriate for Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) because their risk profiles differ from large-scale reactors. This is based on several factors including their limited electrical capacity of 300 MW, the below grade reactor vessel, and passive safety features. One design feature that can significantly reduce accident severity is the larger lateral surface area-to-volume (A/V) ratio of SMRs. Following a nuclear accident, this larger A/V ratio can increase the removal of radioactive particles due to natural phenomena compared to large light water reactors (LWRs). To quantify the improvements in safety, this work estimates the airborne radioactivity within containment and environmental dose exposure in a post-accident scenario for an advanced Generation III+ LWR (AP1000), a representative Generation II LWR (Surry), and an SMR. On average, the AP1000, Surry, and SMR produces 139, 153, and 104 curies/ft³ (182, 200, and 136 terabecquerels/m³) 75 min after a Loss-of-coolant-accident (LOCA). Using Monte Carlo simulations, the SMR produces less radioactivity per volume in containment than the AP1000 and Surry 84% and 96% of the time, respectively. On average, the AP1000, Surry, and SMR produces 84, 106, and 7 thousand curies/MWth (3.1, 3.9, and 2.5 petabecquerels/MWth) 75 min after a LOCA. The larger A/V ratio of the SMR plays a substantial role in reducing the radioactivity. While it is expected that the SMR would have a lower levels of radioactivity compared to the AP1000 and Surry, the SMR produces less radioactivity after normalizing by thermal reactor power and containment volume. With respect to environmental dose exposure, the US Environmental Protection Agency 1–5 rem (0.01–0.05 sieverts) Protective Action Guide (PAG) limits for whole body exposure is not exceeded at the 10-mile (16.1-km) EPZ using the mean estimates for the AP1000 and Surry. The iPWR does not exceed the 1 rem (0.01 sieverts) lower PAG limit for whole body exposure at the 5-mile (8-km) EPZ using the mean value. These findings can be used in conjunction with the improved analytical methods, found in the SOARCA study, to provide accurate and realistic estimates for exposure. This will help create a pathway to develop a regulatory basis for technology-neutral, risk-based approach to EPZs for iPWRs.
... Nuclear power is a key player in decarbonising the energy production system [14]. While SMRs might be more expensive per unit of power produced compared to large nuclear reactors, they can play a vital role in providing electricity in conjunction with renewables [14]. ...
... Nuclear power is a key player in decarbonising the energy production system [14]. While SMRs might be more expensive per unit of power produced compared to large nuclear reactors, they can play a vital role in providing electricity in conjunction with renewables [14]. Owing to the intermittent nature of many renewable energy sources, combining renewables with nuclear power can constitute one of the cheapest ways of achieving a low-carbon energy production system, and it can reduce emissions more compared to energy production systems relying entirely on renewable sources [15]. ...
... Until fabrication has stabilised and production is well understood, the LCOE of SMR-generated power will be 30% more costly than that of the energy produced by a large-scale nuclear reactor [14]. Furthermore, current cash flow modelling suggests that the cost of a natural gas plant with CCS is less than that of an SMR plant on a per output basis [14]. ...
Article
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Ensuring an ongoing supply of power in a low carbon economy is one of the major national and international challenges that almost every country faces. Investments in alternative and renewable energy technologies have risen steadily over the last decade, particularly since the ratification of the 2030 Paris Agreement. Although reasonable progress has been made as a result of this, even the most developed renewable energy technologies, for example, solar, wind and hydro, cannot satisfy the rapidly growing energy demand of the world. Arguably a non-renewable energy source, nuclear energy may be one clean energy answer for the future. More specifically, small-scale nuclear energy holds considerable potential. Such potential exists in the form of light water small modular reactors (LW-SMRs). These SMRs have the capability to meet the energy independence and the energy security needs of many countries while reducing capital and operating expenditure and environmental and physical footprint. The modularity aspect of this technology allows for varied application, from large towns to rural regions that currently rely on individual generators. It also creates the opportunity of cogeneration with already existing conventional power generation technology to diversify power generation and increase grid stability. LW-SMRs are not a new idea; in fact, they have been used to power U.S. aircraft carriers and submarines for almost 60 years. This case study will address the advantages and disadvantages of the LW-SMR, using the market leader NuScale as an example. NuScale in Oregon, United States, is arguably the most experienced and influential LW-SMR nuclear energy company when it comes to the factory fabrication of LW-SMRs.
... The demonstration is focused on the role of nuclear power, with risk tolerance driven by a general model for the distribution of the perceived probability of another major accident, similar to that of Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, or Fukushima. While other social and economic factors have and may continue to contribute to opposition to nuclear power [33,34], many of these concerns can arise from, or act synergistically with, the fear of catastrophic accidents. Given the potential restrictions on nuclear power, the implications for the overall U.S. electricity portfolio are analyzed using an energy system optimization model through the year 2050. ...
... Although nuclear power could offer significant contributions to a low-carbon future [68][69][70], the technology's contribution to deep decarbonization is dependent upon socio-technical enabling factors [34]. While the technology offers the ability to accommodate and support renewables [71], nuclear waste management, cost and time overruns, accidents, and market competition may diminish its overall attractiveness [72,73], particularly if safety concerns and social aversion remain unaddressed [74]. ...
Article
Many energy systems models have sought to develop pathways for deep decarbonization of the global energy system. Most often, these pathways minimize system costs or greenhouse gas emissions; with few exceptions, they ignore the constraints imposed by political, social, and economic factors that slow transition processes, making them prone to producing implausible decarbonization pathways. This paper integrates a key socio-technical factor—social acceptance of low-carbon nuclear power—into an energy systems model to illustrate how it alters the optimal energy generation mix. The United States was chosen as the example, but the approach itself is designed to be general and applicable to any region of interest. An empirically grounded risk tolerance model is developed to characterize acceptance of nuclear power and estimate an upper-bound deployment limit for the technology. Illustrative scenarios are presented to improve our understanding of how the socio-technical constraints that exist in the real world can alter deep decarbonization pathways. The cost-optimal generation portfolio to achieve net zero CO2 emissions by 2050 primarily relies on nuclear power. If risk tolerance concerns constrain nuclear deployment to socially acceptable levels, deep decarbonization scenarios are up to 11% more expensive than the reference scenario and require low-carbon options to be available and replace the reduced nuclear share. Results from this novel framework improve our representation of the effect of social acceptance on the adoption and diffusion of energy technologies. They also contribute to a growing literature that seeks to firmly embed the social sciences in climate and energy policy.
... Nuclear power plants Some argue that nuclear fission reactors (also known as nuclear power plants) are essential to meeting climate change goals [95], but these technologies face significant challenges including public safety, waste disposal, slow technological learning [96,97], and high costs [95]. ML can help with a small piece of the latter problem by reducing maintenance costs; specifically, deep networks can speed up inspections by detecting cracks and anomalies from image and video data [98] or by preemptively detecting faults from high-dimensional sensor and simulation data [99]. ...
... Nuclear power plants Some argue that nuclear fission reactors (also known as nuclear power plants) are essential to meeting climate change goals [95], but these technologies face significant challenges including public safety, waste disposal, slow technological learning [96,97], and high costs [95]. ML can help with a small piece of the latter problem by reducing maintenance costs; specifically, deep networks can speed up inspections by detecting cracks and anomalies from image and video data [98] or by preemptively detecting faults from high-dimensional sensor and simulation data [99]. ...
Preprint
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Climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity, and we, as machine learning experts, may wonder how we can help. Here we describe how machine learning can be a powerful tool in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and helping society adapt to a changing climate. From smart grids to disaster management, we identify high impact problems where existing gaps can be filled by machine learning, in collaboration with other fields. Our recommendations encompass exciting research questions as well as promising business opportunities. We call on the machine learning community to join the global effort against climate change.
... In recent years, countries such as France or the United States have studied the lifetime extension significantly beyond 40 years: specifically, a lifetime extension up to 60 years [64]. The PWR Generation III designs were designed for a life of 60 years [65,66], and the United States is even planning a lifetime extension up to 80 years [67][68][69][70][71]. ...
... According to Figure 19, starting in 2040, the PWR nuclear power plants will notably reduce their electrical capacity. This situation is likely to influence decisions about future investment and operating costs [71], as well as prospects for the decommissioning and management of high-level radioactive waste at current nuclear power plants [72][73][74][75][76][77]. Lastly, if no advances are made in R&D of new designs or in the use of the actual nuclear power plants in cogeneration systems for the production of hydrogen [78,79], in 2050 this technology will decrease its generation capacity to 50%, keeping 127 GWe and the number of operating rectors at 70%. ...
Article
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Nuclear energy is presented as a real option in the face of the current problem of climate change and the need to reduce CO2 emissions. The nuclear reactor design with the greatest global impact throughout history and which has the most ambitious development plans is the Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR). Thus, a global review of such a reactor design is presented in this paper, utilizing the analysis of (i) technical aspects of the different variants of the PWR design implemented over the past eight years, (ii) the level of implementation of PWR nuclear power plants in the world, and (iii) a life extension scenario and future trends in PWR design based on current research and development (R&D) activity. To develop the second analysis, a statistical study of the implementation of the different PWR variants has been carried out. Such a statistical analysis is based on the operating factor, which represents the relative frequency of reactors operating around the world. The results reflect the hegemony of the western variants in the 300 reactors currently operating, highlighting the North American and French versions. Furthermore, a simulation of a possible scenario of increasing the useful life of operational PWRs up to 60 years has been proposed, seeing that in 2050 the generation capacity of nuclear PWRs power plants will decrease by 50%, and the number of operating reactors by 70%.
... In certain parts of the world, deployment of nuclear power is confronted by economic and social barriers. Increased competition from low-cost natural gas as well as renewable electricity generation has led to the early retirement of nuclear power plants in the U.S. and Germany [18,[28][29][30]. High capital costs, long construction times, and unfavorable public perception [21,29,31,32] have also negatively impacted investment in nuclear power plants, and remain as barriers to deeper penetration of nuclear power. ...
... Increased competition from low-cost natural gas as well as renewable electricity generation has led to the early retirement of nuclear power plants in the U.S. and Germany [18,[28][29][30]. High capital costs, long construction times, and unfavorable public perception [21,29,31,32] have also negatively impacted investment in nuclear power plants, and remain as barriers to deeper penetration of nuclear power. At the same time, ideological trends in many regions favor VRE and other low-or zero-carbon technologies over nuclear power, and policy changes such as mandates and incentives have spurred the growth of the former. ...
Article
Full-text available
To reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide emissions and mitigate impacts of climate change, countries across the world have mandated quotas for renewable electricity. But a question has remained largely unexplored: would low-cost, firm, zero-carbon electricity generation technologies enhance—or would they displace—deployment of variable renewable electricity generation technologies, i.e., wind and solar photovoltaics, in a least-cost, fully reliable, and deeply decarbonized electricity system? To address this question, we modeled idealized electricity systems based on historical weather data and considered only technoeconomic factors. We did not apply a predetermined use model. We found that cost reductions in firm generation technologies (starting at current costs, ramping down to nearly zero) uniformly resulted in increased penetration of the firm technologies and decreased penetration of variable renewable electricity generation, in electricity systems where technology deployment is primarily driven by relative costs, and across a wide array of future technology cost assumptions. Similarly, reduced costs of variable renewable electricity (starting at current costs, ramping down to nearly zero) drove out firm generation technologies. Yet relative to deployment of “must-run” firm generation technologies, and when the studied firm technologies have high fixed costs relative to variable costs, the addition of flexibility to firm generation technologies had only limited impacts on the system cost, less than a 9% system cost reduction in our idealized model. These results reveal that policies and funding that support particular technologies for low- or zero-carbon electricity generation can inhibit the development of other low- or zero-carbon alternatives.
... With cost overruns and development delays in next-generation nuclear technology (no working 4 th gen prototypes have been constructed), many now question if nuclear is a worthwhile investment [104][105][106][107] . Even for the most optimistic scenarios, new nuclear plants won't be completed for 10 to 20 years, and their electricity costs in 2040 are expected to be at least double what renewables are already delivering today 108 . ...
... The U.S. is at a crossroads. We could double-down on outdated and expensive fossil and nuclear technologies, with their dwindling international market and environmental costs [104][105][106][107][108] . Or we unleash American innovation and industry to take advantage of skyrocketing domestic and international demand for renewables. ...
Technical Report
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The global energy system is undergoing the largest and fastest transformation since the Industrial Revolution. Breakthroughs in renewable production and storage have made solar and wind the cheapest and cleanest energy ever available. Consequently, solar, wind, and batteries now make up more than 90% of all new energy production built each year. Because the energy scene is changing so rapidly, there is a lot of misunderstanding and misinformation (just YouTube “renewables” and you’ll see what we mean). Even those of us in the industry can get out of date in a matter of months. As a group of researchers, students, and community members, we prepared this overview of the renewable revolution based on more than 300 peer-reviewed studies, technical reports, and public articles. We were asked by local and state lawmakers to prepare this report, but we received no funding to do this research.
... Nuclear reactors in parts of the United States have shut down prematurely before the end of their license period due to financial pressures. [7][8][9] In general, electricity from recently shutdown nuclear reactors has not been replaced with an equivalent supply of carbon-free electricity. Rather, carbon emissions have increased in those states with nuclear plant retirements from substitution to natural gas sourced electricity. ...
Article
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Nuclear power is currently the single largest carbon-free source of electricity in the United States. The climate mitigation cost savings of the existing U.S. nuclear fleet is denominated in hundreds of billions of dollars [net present value (NPV)] based on an integrated assessment modeling of the U.S. energy system within a globally consistent framework. Lifetime extensions of the existing nuclear fleet from 40 years to 60 and 100 years resulted in $330 billion to $500 billion (all figures are in U.S. dollars) (NPV) of mitigation cost savings for the United States under a deep decarbonization scenario consistent with limiting global temperature change to 2°C. The addition of new nuclear deployments in the United States increased the total U.S. mitigation cost savings of the 2°C climate goal by up to $750 billion (NPV). Immediate actions are required in the United States and globally to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by mid-century, and once achieving net-zero emissions, they must remain at net-zero indefinitely. Lifetime extensions of the existing nuclear fleet, in the United States and globally, support urgent near-term emissions reduction goals. Additionally, the longevity of nuclear power technologies reduces the need for new capacity additions of all carbon-free electricity sources and supports long-term actions necessary to maintain net-zero emissions.
... Private firms are reluctant to invest if the break-even period for profitability is highly uncertain, the investment volumes are relatively large, process integration has not been done before, patents offer limited protection and profitable lead-markets for green commodities are not available. Failure of construction projects represents a major risk for private sector companies, as can be observed for investments in the latest generation of nuclear power plants in the US and France [78], [79]. Additionally, the current crisis creates uncertainty about the timeline and scale of the recovery, forcing companies to reduce expenditures, including innovation funding. ...
... The development of advanced fission and fusion reactors depends heavily on the robust performance of advanced structural materials under extreme radiation conditions [1][2][3][4][5] . Concentrated solid solution alloys (CSAs), including high entropy alloys (HEAs), which contain two to five principal elements in equiatomic or high concentrations with different elements randomly arranged on a simple crystalline lattice, have demonstrated superior mechanical properties [6][7][8] and promising radiation resistance [ 5 , 9-15 ]. ...
Article
Understanding chemical disorder in many concentrated solid solution alloys (CSAs) at the levels of electrons and atoms has attracted increasing attention as a path forward to reveal and identify underlying mechanisms for extraordinary mechanical properties and improved radiation tolerance. Single-phase NiFeCoCr CSA is a common base for many high-entropy alloys (HEAs) that have shown improved mechanical strength and radiation tolerance. In this study, defect production and damage evolution in NiFeCoCr under ion irradiation at room temperature to dose over 20 dpa are determined using ion channeling technique along both <100> and <110> directions utilizing multiple probing beam energies. The results obtained from the multi-axial and multi-energy channeling analysis are compared with those previously obtained for Ni crystals irradiated under similar conditions. The influence of chemical complexity on defect production and clustering at early-stage under room temperature irradiation up to dose of 1 dpa is discussed based on positron annihilation spectroscopy results. Defect structure evaluation in Ni and NiFeCoCr is also discussed based on transmission electron microscopy results over a prolonged irradiation at both room and elevated temperatures. Compared with chemically complex NiFeCoCr, larger dislocation loops thus less lattice strain are expected to form in pure Ni. Moreover, the role of chemical disorder in this CSA is also investigated based on ab initio calculations using large supercells. To understand the impact of chemical complexity effect on defect structure evolution, this integrated research effort attempts to link the relatively large charge redistribution due to difference in valence electron counts resulting from alloying different 3d transition metal elements, moderate lattice distortion arising from similar adaptable atomic size, and notable suppressed or delayed damage evolution in NiFeCoCr.
... This analysis of avoidable impacts has important implications for other major nuclear power producers. For example, there are credible assessments suggesting that nuclear could decline significantly in the US as well as the rest of Europe in the next few decades (Kunsch and Friesewinkel, 2014;Morgan et al., 2018). If we suppose that these regions adopt Germany's goal of total nuclear phaseout (whether intentionally or due to unfavorable market conditions or other factors) in a linear fashion between 2018 and 2035, we find that they could each lose the chance to prevent over 100,000 (UR: 50,000-130,000) air pollution-induced deaths and 6800-7400 MtCO 2 cumulative emissions from coal burning (Fig. 5). ...
Article
Full-text available
Following the March 2011 nuclear power plant accident in Fukushima, Japan, nuclear power production declined sharply in that country as well as Germany. Despite widespread media coverage of CO2 emission increases in the first few years afterward, subsequent energy and emission changes and their implications are not well-studied. Here we analyze energy, electricity, and CO2 emissions data for both countries through 2017. We also quantify the human health and CO2 implications of two simple yet illuminating scenarios: What if both countries had reduced fossil fuel power output instead of nuclear? And what if the US and the rest of Europe eliminate their remaining nuclear power? We find that emissions increased after Fukushima until 2013 but decreased thereafter due to record-high renewable energy production and lower total energy use. However our “what if” scenarios demonstrate that these two countries could have prevented 28,000 air pollution-induced deaths and 2400 MtCO2 emissions between 2011 and 2017. Germany can still prevent 16,000 deaths and 1100 MtCO2 emissions by 2035 by reducing coal instead of eliminating nuclear as planned. If the US and the rest of Europe follow Germany's example they could lose the chance to prevent over 200,000 deaths and 14,000 MtCO2 emissions by 2035.
... As it binds 65 signatories to substantially cut off their GHG emissions to reduce global warming 66 [8]. Many scholars believe that nuclear energy as a solution to counter the problem 67 of energy security and global warming [9][10][11]. At the same time, many believe it 68 harms the environment and humanity [12,13]. ...
Article
The global warming phenomenon emerges from the issue of climate change, which attracts the attention of intellectuals towards clean energy sources from dirty energy sources. Among clean sources, nuclear energy is getting immense attention among policymakers. However, the role of nuclear energy in pollution emissions reduction has remained inconclusive and demand for further investigation. Therefore, the current study contributes to extend knowledge by investigating the nexus between nuclear energy, economic growth, and CO2 emissions in a developing country context such as Pakistan for the period between 1973 and 2017. The auto-regressive distributive lag model summarizes the nuclear energy has negative effect on environmental pollution as it releases carbon emission in the environment. Moreover, vector error correction Granger causality provides evidence for bidirectional causality between nuclear energy and carbon emissions. These interesting findings provide new insight, and policy guidelines provided based on these results.
... Estimating the costs of excluding potential advanced technologies is especially relevant for the power sector, where emerging generation technologies are expected to play critical roles in meeting emissions reductions objectives domestically and internationally (Rogelj et al., 2018;Bistline, 2016;Sanchez et al., 2015). In addition to questions about how different drivers of technological change like research, development, and demonstration (RD&D), scale economies, and learning by doing may lower costs (Nemet, 2019), researchers disagree about the competitiveness of different electricity generation technologies and how limited portfolios (e.g., without new nuclear, carbon-capture-equipped units, or transmission) could impact the costs and likelihoods of reaching CO 2 reduction goals (e.g., Morgan et al., 2018;Clack et al., 2017;van Vuuren et al., 2017). In particular, there are questions about the role of variable renewables in light of the declining economic value of wind and solar at higher penetration levels (Bistline and Young, 2019;Wiser et al., 2017;Bistline, 2017;Gowrisankaran et al., 2016;Blanford, 2015;Hirth, 2013) relative to dispatchable low-carbon technologies like advanced nuclear, carbon capture, hydropower, biomass, and others. ...
Article
Power sector decarbonization is an important pillar of climate mitigation efforts, but perspectives differ about the relative competitiveness of generation technologies and how limited portfolio approaches (e.g., where non-renewable generation options are prohibited) could alter the costs and likelihoods of reaching emissions reduction goals. The existing literature on impacts of technological availability and cost on electric sector planning typically use models that do not have sufficient technological, spatial, and temporal detail to adequately resolve the economic competitiveness of variable renewable energy vis-à-vis dispatchable generators. Using a state-of-the-art energy-economic model, this work examines impacts of technological availability and advanced generation technologies on U.S. electricity market outcomes across a range of regional, market, and policy contexts. We show that decarbonization costs are 11%–76% higher as technological options are removed from consideration (incremental compliance costs for a 95% CO2 reduction below 2005 levels are roughly twice as high when new nuclear, carbon-capture-equipped units, and transmission are not allowed). However, the economic and technical implications of limited portfolios depend on the market and policy contexts (e.g., costs are higher with stringent targets, more extensive end-use electrification, and lower gas prices) and the costs and capabilities of the remaining options. The analysis demonstrates how lower temporal and spatial resolution models likely understate the value of technology by omitting key economic and technical features of high variable renewable pathways. Additionally, the analysis quantifies how technological change can lower costs of emissions reductions by 7%–73% and how low-cost battery storage can provide a hedge against higher costs when technological portfolios are limited.
... We begin by briefly discussing electricity production in both countries (Section 1.1), then cover past research on public energy preferences (Section 1.2), and finally introduce the present research and region of focus (Section 1.3). like the U.S. and Canada [35]. However, nuclear power is highly contentious amongst members of the public [36]. ...
Article
Full-text available
The U.S. and Canada continue to face major changes in energy production. Mounting awareness of the climate crisis has placed increasing importance on developing renewable energy sources, however, advances in fossil fuel extraction technology have opened vast domestic reserves of oil and natural gas. Public preferences for energy policy play a role in determining energy futures, but researchers rarely simultaneously compare public views across multiple renewable and non-renewable energies or across country boundaries. Here, we used a 2019 online survey sample (n = 1500) to compare predictors of support for eight fuel sources for electricity generation in British Columbia, Canada, and Washington and Oregon, USA. Results indicate the highest support overall for renewables (wind, solar, wave/tidal energy, geothermal) and the lowest for fossil fuels (coal and natural gas), nuclear, and hydropower. Mixed-effects regression modeling indicates that views on climate and the balance between environment and economy were consistent predictors of support across most energy types, while political ideology was less consistent. Perceived local importance of both extractive and renewable energy industries were significant predictors of support for some, but not all, energy sources, as were education and gender. Overall, our research suggests that while divisions persist in public energy preferences for both renewable and non-renewable sources, there is the broadest support for renewable energy technologies.
... Therefore, investigating the conversion methods fascinates many researchers. The photovoltaic solar technology [1,2], the turbine energy harvesting technology [3][4][5], the nuclear power technology [6,7] are all the great energy conversion technologies. ...
Article
Full-text available
Vortex-induced vibration (VIV) is used by piezoelectric energy harvesters to generate electricity from wind and water flow. In this study, we introduce the nonlinear magnetic force into piezoelectric energy harvesters and develop a nonlinear monostable piezoelectric VIV transducer. We build a distributed-parameter model based on the Euler-Bernoulli beam theory and Kirchhof’s law to analyze the dynamic responses of the magnetic-coupling piezoelectric energy harvester (MCPEH). Model results show that the performance of the MCPEH varies greatly with the increase of the load resistance and the length of the used PZT. There are two optimal resistance values for the MCPEH. When R<31.6 kΩ, both the external load resistance and the PZT length affect the maximum power output. The little optimum resistance value will dwindle with the increase of the PZT length, whereas the large optimum resistance value still fixes at 1.78 MΩ with the increase of the PZT length. Due to the resistive shunt damping effect and the kinetic energy of wind, the resonance domain becomes wider in these ranges of load resistance smaller than 31.6 kΩ and larger than 316 kΩ comparing that when the load resistance is larger than 31.6 kΩ and smaller than 316 kΩ. Besides, the performance is enhanced by the monostable nonlinear magnetic force, which can be improved by decreasing the value of the distance between moving magnets and fixed magnets. The energy harvester shows a maximum power output of 0.21 mW under excitation of wind velocity is 1.6 m/s when the cylindrical diameter is 20 mm, the PZT length is 30 mm and the load resistance is 0.5 MΩ.
... Yet policy support for current-generation nuclear power is moderate in many regions due to its high costs 16 and concerns related to its safety. Such considerations have led to early retirements of nuclear power plants in regions such as Japan and Germany 17, 18 . ...
Article
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New designs of advanced nuclear power plants have been proposed that may allow nuclear power to be less expensive and more flexible than conventional nuclear. It is unclear how and whether such a system would complement variable renewables in decarbonized electricity systems. Here we modelled stylized electricity systems under a least-cost optimization framework taking into account technoeconomic factors only, considering electricity demand and renewable potential in 42 country-level regions. In our model, in moderate decarbonization scenarios, solar and wind can provide less costly electricity when competing against nuclear at near-current US Energy Information Administration (US$6,317 per kilowatt-electric (kWe)) and at US$4,000 kWe−1 cost levels. In contrast, in deeply decarbonized systems (for example, beyond ~80% emissions reduction) and in the absence of low-cost grid-flexibility mechanisms, nuclear can be competitive with solar and wind. High-quality wind resources can make it difficult for nuclear to compete. Thermal heat storage coupled to nuclear power can, in some cases, promote wind and solar. Advanced nuclear reactors may lead to a significant reduction in the cost of nuclear energy. Duan et al. incorporate a wide range of potential advanced nuclear costs in their assessment of future decarbonization options and find areas where nuclear can support wind and solar.
... They discussed more than a dozen such potential wedges ranging from energy efficiency and fuel switching from coal to natural gas to the advanced deployment of renewable electricity, nuclear power, and carbon capture and storage 1 . Other studies similarly note the importance of renewable energy and nuclear power in climate mitigation pathways and/or for achieving energy systems with net-zero emissions [2][3][4][5] . ...
Article
Full-text available
Two of the most widely emphasized contenders for carbon emissions reduction in the electricity sector are nuclear power and renewable energy. While scenarios regularly question the potential impacts of adoption of various technology mixes in the future, it is less clear which technology has been associated with greater historical emission reductions. Here, we use multiple regression analyses on global datasets of national carbon emissions and renewable and nuclear electricity production across 123 countries over 25 years to examine systematically patterns in how countries variously using nuclear power and renewables contrastingly show higher or lower carbon emissions. We find that larger-scale national nuclear attachments do not tend to associate with significantly lower carbon emissions while renewables do. We also find a negative association between the scales of national nuclear and renewables attachments. This suggests nuclear and renewables attachments tend to crowd each other out.
... fleet deployment by around 2045 (for the first systems)" (GIF, 2018). Other entities, such as France's Institut de Radioprotection et de Sûreté Nucléaire (IRSN), and a number of US academics, have also offered cautionary evaluations Anad on et al., 2012;Ford et al., 2017;IRSN, 2015;Morgan et al., 2018). ...
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Nuclear power plant construction has historically been challenged by problems of high cost, cost escalation, and construction delays. The newest set of large reactor projects have also been overbudget and overtime. This has prompted interest in new reactor technologies that proponents claim would not suffer these problems, specifically small modular reactors (SMRs), a class that encompasses a wide range of technologies. This article examines national efforts in three countries, Canada, the UK, and the United States, which are pursuing SMRs vigorously and where the government has funded their development generously. We compare the different strategies and foci of these national strategies, analyzing the various forms of support offered by the separate agencies of the government, and the private companies that are trying to develop SMRs. We also offer an overview of the different types of reactor technologies being pursued in these different countries. Following these, we outline the main challenge confronting SMR technologies: their ability to generate electricity in an economically competitive manner, highlighting the problems resulting from economies of scale being lost. By examining the experience so far, we find that even designs based on well‐tested technology cannot be deployed till after 2030 and the more radical designs might never be. This article is categorized under: Policy and Economics > Research and Development Policy and Economics > Regional and International Strategies Energy and Power Systems > Energy Infrastructure Schematic comparison of five SMRs versus one large reactor.
... Investments in research on these technologies is an imperative, given that there is no plausible scenario in which human beings will not be fighting to reduce carbon in the atmosphere 20, 30, or 50 years from now. Unfortunately, there are few signs that these technologies could be deployed at scale any time soon (Morgan et al., 2018;Roberts, 2018). Likewise, various forms of "geoengineering," such as solar radiation management, may come to be an important supplement to CO 2 mitigation and adaptation to climate change. ...
... Наприклад, автори роботи [4] пропонують отримувати біоенергію з кореневищ рослин. Автори публікації [5] відзначають, що основним напрямком заміни теплової електроенергетики є маломодульні атомні реактори. ...
... Most importantly the cost of the energy supply -nuclear power -is high. Economic modeling in the United States shows that there are much cheaper alternatives (Granger et al. 2018). ...
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In recent years, there has been much discussion of small modular reactors. Companies developing such designs have received large amounts of government funding. Lower power outputs of these reactors will likely result in higher costs in comparison to large nuclear reactors, and even if they achieve parity, will fail economically, since large reactors are themselves struggling to compete with renewable sources of electricity. Mass manufacture is unlikely to reduce costs adequately and might itself become a source of problems, including the possibility of recalls. The history of problems with non-traditional nuclear reactor designs indicates that they will likely take longer to commercialize than light-water small modular reactor designs. The problems related to radioactive waste and nuclear weapon proliferation will persist, though in different technical configurations depending on reactor design. Small modular reactors fail the tests of time and cost, which are of the essence in meeting the challenge of climate change. Even the official schedules indicate that their contributions will be negligible by 2030 and remain small by 2035, when the grid needs to be nearly completely decarbonized.
... Private firms are reluctant to invest if the break-even period for profitability is highly uncertain, the investment volumes are relatively large, process integration has not been done before, patents offer limited protection and profitable leadmarkets for green commodities are not available. Failure of construction projects represents a major risk for private sector companies, as can be observed for investments in the latest generation of nuclear power plants in the US and France (Marignac, 2015;Morgan et al., 2018). ...
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This paper explores climate-friendly projects that could be part of the COVID-19 recovery while jump-starting the transition of the European basic materials industry. Findings from a literature review on technology options in advanced development stages for climate-friendly production, enhanced sorting, and recycling of steel, cement, aluminium, and plastics, are combined with insights from interviews with 31 European stakeholders in these sectors about the practical and economic feasibility of these technology options. Results indicate that with an estimated investment of 28.9 billion Euros, up to 20% of EU’s basic materials could be produced through low-emission processes or additional recycling by 2025 with technologies that are commercially available or at pilot scale today. However, our stakeholder consultation also shows that in order to make these short-term investments viable, six main barriers need to be addressed, namely: (i) the lack of effective and predictable carbon pricing, (ii) the limited availability of affordable green electricity, (iii) the lack of a regulatory framework for circularity, (iv) low technology market readiness and funding, (v) the lack of infrastructure for hydrogen, CO2 and power, and (vi) the lack of demand for climate-friendly and recycled materials. Based on these insights, the paper proposes elements of a policy package that can create a framework favourable for investments in these technologies; these policies should ideally accompany the recovery package to give credibility to investors that the business case will last beyond the recovery period. Key policy insights • Technologies for climate-friendly materials production, sorting and recycling can be supported as part of the recovery package but require an enabling policy framework. • Combining continued free allocation with a Climate Contribution within the EU ETS can enhance economic viability of climate-friendly options. • Project-based Carbon Contracts for Difference can eliminate carbon price uncertainty for climate-friendly processes. • Auctions for publicly backed Contracts for Difference and Power Purchasing Agreements can guarantee price-stability of low-emission electricity. • Green public procurement and public-private partnerships can provide infrastructure for hydrogen, CO2 and electricity while creating demand for climate-friendly materials. • Revising regulations on product design and end-of-life emissions can improve sorting and recycling incentives.
... Issues include: inherent risk of cost-overruns and exposure to changing market conditions due to long lead times; the 'entrapment' of policy making by influential industrial and political interests into manifestly inferior technological strategies; a lack of consideration for complexity and uncertainty; inadequate budgeting by industry and government in relation to well-established trends in under-performance; associated public misinformation about costs, benefits and risks; a proliferation of non-standardised technology and designs. Despite decades of effort, nuclear construction is plagued by cost-overruns and delays that tend to get worse with time (Gilbert et al. 2017;Sovacool, Gilbert, and Nugent 2014;Granger Morgan et al. 2018;Walker 2000). Although now particularly visible in 'liberalised' energy markets (Thomas 2010), these challenges are nothing new. ...
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Nuclear power has long offered an iconic context for addressing risk and controversy surrounding megaprojects-including trends towards cost overruns, management failures, governance challenges , and accountability breaches. Less attention has focused on reasons why countries continue new nuclear construction despite these well-documented problems. Whilst other analysis tends to frame associated issues in terms of energy provision, this paper will explore how civil nuclear infrastructures subsist within wider 'infrastructure ecologies'-encompassing ostensibly discrete meg-aprojects across both civil and military nuclear sectors. Attending closely to the UK case, we show how understandings of megapro-jects can move beyond bounded sectoral and time horizons to include infrastructure patterns and rhythms that transcend the usual academic and policy silos. By illuminating strong military-related drivers modulating civil nuclear 'infrastructure rhythms' in the UK, key issues arise concerning bounded notions of a 'megaproject' in this context-for instance in how costs are calculated around what seems a far more deeply and broadly integrated 'nuclear complex'. Major undeclared interdependencies between civilian and military nuclear activities raise significant implications for policymaking and wider democracy. ARTICLE HISTORY
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Analysts and decision makers frequently want estimates of the cost of technologies that have yet to be developed or deployed. Small modular reactors (SMRs), which could become part of a portfolio of carbon-free energy sources, are one such technology. Existing estimates of likely SMR costs rely on problematic top-down approaches or bottom-up assessments that are proprietary. When done properly, expert elicitations can complement these approaches. We developed detailed technical descriptions of two SMR designs and then conduced elicitation interviews in which we obtained probabilistic judgments from 16 experts who are involved in, or have access to, engineering-economic assessments of SMR projects. Here, we report estimates of the overnight cost and construction duration for five reactor-deployment scenarios that involve a large reactor and two light water SMRs. Consistent with the uncertainty introduced by past cost overruns and construction delays, median estimates of the cost of new large plants vary by more than a factor of 2.5. Expert judgments about likely SMR costs display an even wider range. Median estimates for a 45 megawatts-electric (MWe) SMR range from $4,000 to $16,300/kWe and from $3,200 to $7,100/kWe for a 225-MWe SMR. Sources of disagreement are highlighted, exposing the thought processes of experts involved with SMR design. There was consensus that SMRs could be built and brought online about 2 y faster than large reactors. Experts identify more affordable unit cost, factory fabrication, and shorter construction schedules as factors that may make light water SMRs economically viable.
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In recent years, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) has become increasingly interested in the potential of small (less than 300 megawatts electric [MWe]) nuclear reactors for military use. DOD's attention to small reactors stems mainly from two critical vulnerabilities it has identified in its infrastructure and operations: the dependence of U.S. military bases on the fragile civilian electrical grid, and the challenge of safely and reliably supplying energy to troops in forward operating locations. DOD has responded to these challenges with an array of initiatives on energy efficiency and renewable and alternative fuels. Unfortunately, even with massive investment and ingenuity, these initiatives will be insufficient to solve DOD's reliance on the civilian grid or its need for convoys in forward areas. The purpose of this paper is to explore the prospects for addressing these critical vulnerabilities through small-scale nuclear plants. Several Congressional and DOD actors have already indicated an interest in military applications of small reactors. In early 2008, the Air Force, at the behest of former Senators Pete Domenici and Larry Craig, considered a pilot program to deploy small reactors on at least one of its bases. In late 2009, the National Defense Authorization Act authorized a study on the feasibility of developing nuclear power plants on military installations. Additionally, a handful of defense analysts have publicly advocated using nuclear power plants for military electricity and mobility, and a joint DOD-Department of Energy (DOE) working group, in cooperation with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), is now studying options for small nuclear reactors on DOD installations.
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Humanity already possesses the fundamental scientific, technical, and industrial know-how to solve the carbon and climate problem for the next half-century. A portfolio of technologies now exists to meet the world's energy needs over the next 50 years and limit atmospheric CO2 to a trajectory that avoids a doubling of the preindustrial concentration. Every element in this portfolio has passed beyond the laboratory bench and demonstration project; many are already implemented somewhere at full industrial scale. Although no element is a credible candidate for doing the entire job (or even half the job) by itself, the portfolio as a whole is large enough that not every element has to be used.
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The atmospheric residence time of carbon dioxide is hundreds of years, many orders of magnitude longer than that of common air pollution, which is typically hours to a few days. However, randomly selected respondents in a mail survey in Allegheny County, PA (N = 119) and in a national survey conducted with MTurk (N = 1,013) judged the two to be identical (in decades), considerably overestimating the residence time of air pollution and drastically underestimating that of carbon dioxide. Moreover, while many respondents believed that action is needed today to avoid climate change (regardless of cause), roughly a quarter held the view that if climate change is real and serious, we will be able to stop it in the future when it happens, just as we did with common air pollution. In addition to assessing respondents' understanding of how long carbon dioxide and common air pollution stay in the atmosphere, we also explored the extent to which people correctly identified causes of climate change and how their beliefs affect support for action. With climate change at the forefront of politics and mainstream media, informing discussions of policy is increasingly important. Confusion about the causes and consequences of climate change, and especially about carbon dioxide's long atmospheric residence time, could have profound implications for sustained support of policies to achieve reductions in carbon dioxide emissions and other greenhouse gases.
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Deep decarbonization in the U.S. will require a shift to an electrified society dominated by low-carbon generation. Many studies assume a role for nuclear power in the new energy economy, and the nuclear industry anticipates an eventual transition from light water reactors to advanced, non-light water designs. The development of these advanced reactors is emblematic of the type of dramatic change that is needed to transition from fossil fuels and deeply decarbonize the energy system. The Office of Nuclear Energy (NE) in the U.S. is entrusted with the allocation of public sector expenditures for this transition, but there is little to show for its efforts; no advanced design is remotely ready for deployment. Here, we report results from structured interviews we conducted with 30 nuclear energy veterans to elicit their impressions of the state of U.S. fission innovation. Most experts assessed NE as having been largely unsuccessful in enabling the development of advanced designs. The interview results highlight the importance of leadership and programmatic discipline, and how their absence leads to poor performance in driving change. Responses point to the likely demise of nuclear power and nuclear science in the U.S. without significant improvements in leadership, focus and political support.
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The incidence of widespread low-wind conditions is important to the reliability and economics of electric grids with large amounts of wind power. In order to investigate a future in which wind plants are geographically widespread but interconnected, we examine how frequently low generation levels occur for wind power aggregated from distant, weakly-correlated wind generators. We simulate the wind power using anemometer data from nine tall-tower sites spanning the contiguous United States. We find that the number of low-power hours per year declines exponentially with the number of sites being aggregated. Hours with power levels below 5% of total capacity, for example, drop by a factor of about 60, from 2140 h/y for the median single site to 36 h/y for the generation aggregated from all nine sites; the standard deviations drops by a factor of 3. The systematic dependence of generation-level probability distribution "tails" on both number and power threshold is well described by the theory of Large Deviations. Combining this theory for tail behavior with the normal distribution for behavior near the mean allows us to estimate, without the use of any adjustable parameters, the entire generation duration curve as a function of the number of essentially independent sites in the array. arXiv:1607.06702
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