EPRG 0612

William Nuttall

Nuclear Renaissance Requires Nuclear Enlightenment

EPRG 0612 Non Technical Summary | PDF

Also published in:

  • Nuclear or Not? Does Nuclear Power Have a Place in a Sustainable Energy Future?  (2007) Editor D. Elliot, Palgrave and Macmillan, ISBN 978-0-230-50764-7 us.macmillan.com/nuclearornot
  •  Nuttall, WJ and Taylor, S. “Financing the Nuclear Renaissance”, European Review of Energy Markets, 3 (2) pp. 187-202. RPR

Abstract: Nuclear energy was developed by technocratic elites during the Cold War and as a consequence is regarded by many as an authoritarian technology. This paper explores this history, but asks whether, as pressures grow for profound changes in energy use as a result of global anthropogenic climate change, nuclear power might actually represent a means to preserve our liberal society. If, in the absence of nuclear energy, aggressive constraints on consumer energy use are mandated in order to achieve climate stabilisation, then there are risks of increased social disorder as concerned minorities organise themselves to oppose measures that they regard as green authoritarianism. Thus far policy for nuclear power has been dominated by a technocratic intent to minimise safety risk in the objective statistical sense. More important, however, for the future politics of nuclear power will be public perceptions of risk and public preferences as to who should bear such risks. This paper argues that it is proper to do more to minimise public fears concerning nuclear power. Such actions must confront the reality that nuclear power, as conventionally deployed, is extremely well matched to public fright factors. While nuclear power is not especially dangerous – it is especially frightening. Various international approaches to nuclear energy policy are considered. This paper argues that, although there are relevant national constitutional and historical factors, those countries adopting more local consensus-based approaches are more likely to achieve enduring policy success. Such an approach would allow for a nuclear renaissance founded upon principles of nuclear enlightenment.

Keywords: Agent Based Simulation, Distributed Electricity Generation, Technology Adoption, Complexity Science

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