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Energy for a Sustainable Future
Sustainable development will require a long-term sustainable source of energy, but continued dependence on fossil fuels is not likely to be sustainable over the next century, with regard to both fuel supply and environmental impact.
Replacement of fossil fuels might be achieved by development of a system in which hydrogen technology helps solve problems of energy storage, distribution, and end-use applications. However, such an energy economy must have a primary energy source, and the hydrogen infrastructure will take time to develop.
Nuclear power is most economical when it is run at a constant rate. It is not well suited for meeting peak-load demands, but would be well suited for supplying the primary energy source for a hydrogen economy. Larger overall demand would permit the reduced unit cost associated with larger base-load capacity.
In the long term, the potential exists for an energy economy based on production of primary energy from nuclear fusion (currently being researched) coupled with hydrogen technology, once hydrogen economy infrastructure is developed.
Bridge to the Future
It is expected that wind, solar and biomass (WSB) energy sources, fossil fuel energy sources, and fission-based nuclear energy will all help provide a bridge to such a sustainable future energy supply.
For now, however, fission-based nuclear power is 40 years ahead of WSB energy supply. Nuclear power must remain as an essential part of the mix of energy sources if we are to continue with sustainable development in the first half of the 21st century.
IAEA (June 2012). Nuclear Technology for a Sustainable Future (pdf)
IAEA: Nuclear Power and Sustainable Development (pdf)
Nuclear Power: The Leading Strategy for Reducing Carbon Emissions (June 2006)
World Nuclear Association (June 2013). Sustainable Energy
Scientific American Magazine (October, 2013). Renewable Energy’s Hidden Costs
DID YOU KNOW?
ONLY NUCLEAR ENERGY DELIVERED BY GENERATION IV IFRS “can rescue the world from energy disaster,” according to the 24-page report, Energy Independence Day: July 4, 2040, by author Joseph M. Shuster, in cooperation with the Science Council for Global Initiatives. The report offers what it calls “a realistic energy mix,” complete with cost estimates and a timetable for achieving the goal of energy security for the world by 2040. As explained in the report, the use of coal and oil as energy sources would be eliminated, with the energy mix in 2040 consisting of nuclear (42 percent), wind and solar (30 percent), natural gas (12 percent), biomass, geothermal, tides, and waves (6 percent), plasma remediation (5 percent), and hydro (5 percent). The report promotes the use of integral fast reactors (IFR) because they would use the long-lived waste from the current fleet of light-water reactors for fuel. “Moreover, the residue that remains after burning this ‘waste’ in an IFR is far less toxic, its volume diminished, and will remain radioactive for only 200–400 years,” the report says. In addition, IFRs have been designed to be proliferation resistant, the report says, and “the possibility of a reactor core meltdown has been eliminated.” IFRs also can further reduce the proliferation potential by consuming as fuel the bomb-making material that exists around the world, the report says. The report is available online at http://www.beyondfossilfools.com/.
Center for Nuclear Science and Technology Information of the American Nuclear Society
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