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Positioning nuclear power in the low-carbon electricity transition

Positioning nuclear power in the low-carbon electricity transition

Verbruggen, Aviel and Yurchenko, Yuliya (2017) Positioning nuclear power in the low-carbon electricity transition. Sustainability, 9:163. pp. 1-14. ISSN 2071-1050 (Print), 2071-1050 (Online) (doi:

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Addressing climate change requires de-carbonizing future energy supplies in the increasingly energy dependent world. The IEA and the IPCC (2014) mention the following as low-carbon energy supply options: ‘renewable energy, nuclear power and fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage’. Positioning nuclear power in the decarbonization transition is a problematic issue and is overridden by ill-conceived axioms. Before probing the axioms, we provide an overview of five major, postwar energy-related legacies and some insight in who is engaged in nuclear activities. We check whether low-carbon nuclear power passes the full sustainability test and whether it is compatible with the unfettered deployment of variable renewable power sourced from the sun and from wind and water currents, delivers two negative answers. We show that the best approach of the sustainable energy transition was Germany’s 2011 decision to phase-out nuclear power for a fast development and full deployment of renewable power. This is the best approach of the sustainable energy transition. We offer five practical suggestions to strengthen and accelerate carbon and nuclear free transitions. They are related to institutional issues like the role of cost-benefit analysis and the mission of the International Atomic Energy Agency, to the costs of nuclear risks and catastrophes, and to the historical record of nuclear technology and business.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2017 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (
Uncontrolled Keywords: Nuclear power; Nuclear risks; Sustainability; Low-carbon transition; Electricity sector; Renewable energy; IAEA International Atomic Energy Agency; IPCC Intergovernmental panel on Climate Change;
Subjects: T Technology > TK Electrical engineering. Electronics Nuclear engineering
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Business
Faculty of Business > Department of International Business & Economics
Last Modified: 29 Apr 2020 13:03

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