4 Sep (NucNet): Unless nuclear energy is meaningfully incorporated into the global mix of low-carbon energy technologies with the help of new government policies, the challenge of climate change will be much more difficult and costly to solve, a report by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Energy Initiative says.
The report, “The Future of Nuclear Energy in a Carbon-Constrained World”, analyses the reasons for the current global stall in nuclear energy – which currently accounts for only 5% of global primary energy production – and outlines measures that could be taken to arrest and reverse that trend.
It says that for nuclear energy to take its place as a major low-carbon energy source issues of cost and policy need to be addressed.
John Parsons, study co-chair and senior lecturer at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, said “the role of government will be critical if we are to take advantage of the economic opportunity and low-carbon potential that nuclear has to offer”.
He said government officials must create new decarbonisation policies that put all low-carbon energy technologies on an equal footing, while also exploring options that spur private investment in nuclear advancement.
The study lays out detailed options for government support of nuclear. For example, the authors recommend that policymakers should avoid premature closures of existing plants, which undermine efforts to reduce emissions and increase the cost of achieving emission reduction targets.
One way to avoid these closures is the implementation of zero-emissions credits – payments made to electricity producers where electricity is generated without greenhouse gas emissions – which are in place in New York, Illinois, and New Jersey.
Another suggestion from the study is that governments support development and demonstration of new nuclear technologies through four funding “levers”: funding to share regulatory licensing costs; funding to share research and development costs; funding for the achievement of specific technical milestones; and funding for production credits to reward successful demonstration of new designs.
The study is online: https://bit.ly/2ChQJja