Click Here to register for seminar #7 – The Future of Nuclear Power
Richard K. Lester, Professor and Head, Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering
Abstract from Richard Lester
Two-and-a-half years have passed since the nuclear disaster at Fukushima, and even now it is difficult to bring the accident clearly into focus. There have been no radiation-related fatalities so far, and radiation exposures following the accident were so low that there are unlikely to be any discernible health effects in the future. On the other hand, more than 100,000 Japanese have been forced from their homes and may never be allowed to return. Around the world, some countries have declared their intention to exit from the nuclear energy field, and others with large nuclear programs – including Canada and the U.S. – seem unable to decide what to do. At the same time, several important countries continue to pursue ambitious plans for nuclear expansion, and others are preparing to embark on nuclear energy programs for the first time.
If the world is to avoid the most harmful effects of rising greenhouse gas levels while still meeting the demand for abundant, affordable, reliable energy, nothing less than a fundamental transformation of current patterns of energy production, delivery, and use will be necessary. This historic transformation to a low-carbon energy system will almost certainly not be achievable without a large-scale expansion of nuclear energy globally, along with very rapid scale-up of renewables and major advances in energy efficiency in both developed and developing economies.
Three challenges must be overcome if nuclear energy is to expand around the world. The first is that both current and newcomer nuclear countries must fully embrace the principles of effective nuclear governance and implement these principles with the highest standards of dedication and quality. The second challenge concerns innovation. A technology that is already much safer than it was when the reactors at Fukushima were built 40 years ago must be made demonstrably safer still, as well as less expensive, more secure against the threats of nuclear proliferation and terrorism, and more compatible with the capabilities and limitations of electric power systems and the utilities that operate them. The third challenge is people. The need for new generations of nuclear scientists and engineers with the intellectual vitality, flexibility, and creativity required to lead the search for new solutions to old problems has never been greater. In this talk I will discuss what can be done to address each of these challenges.
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Mindfirst (M1) is the organizer of the Mindfirst Energy Seminar series of private energy seminar lunches at Bennett Jones. Some events are conducted under Chatham House Rule to respect speaker confidentiality. This seminar will not be conducted under Chatham House Rule, participant comments may be attributed and referred to.