Over the next 50 years, unless patterns change dramatically, energy production and use will contribute to global warming through largescale greenhouse gas emissions — hundreds of billions of tonnes of carbon in the form of carbon dioxide. Nuclear power could be one option for reducing carbon emissions. At present, however, this is unlikely: nuclear power faces stagnation and decline.
This study analyzes what would be required to retain nuclear power as a significant option for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and meeting growing needs for electricity supply. Our analysis is guided by a global growth scenario that would expand current worldwide nuclear generating capacity almost threefold, to 1000 billion watts, by the year 2050. Such a deployment would avoid 1.8 billion tonnes of carbon emissions annually from coal plants, about 25% of the increment in carbon emissions otherwise expected in a business-as-usual scenario. This study also recommends changes in government policy and industrial practice needed in the relatively near term to retain an option for such an outcome.