Magazine article Foreign Policy

The Nuclear Option

Magazine article Foreign Policy

The Nuclear Option

Article excerpt

After a decades-long slowdown, nuclear power once again dominates the global energy debate. Dozens of countries are vying to join the nuclear power club and hundreds of new reactors are on the drawing board. But despite the hype, it will not be the miracle cure for energy dependence or global warming that boosters promise.

Atoms at Work

A country's use of nuclear power has much to do with government intervention, whether through state loans or streamlined regulations. Brazil, China, and India rely on reactors for just tiny fractions of their energy needs, but their dependence will likely grow if the many plants they've proposed are completed.

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A Nuclear Family

After more than 30 years without building a nuclear plant, U.S. utility companies are seeking licenses for over 30 new reactors. In addition, more than 300 reactors have been proposed worldwide. Some 40 reactors are already under construction, though many have been underway for decades with no end in sight. Countries such as Egypt, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela are among the more than 30 countries with serious plans to build their first nuclear plant.

Power Trip

Nuclear power's champions promise many things, but two above all: that nuclear power is a major solution to the world's growing electricity needs, and that increased nuclear use can substantially lower greenhouse gas emissions and fight climate change. For either to be true, the world would have to embark on an unrealistic reactor-building spree.

Can Nuclear Power Provide More Electricity?

Global electricity demand is estimated to nearly double by 2030, with nuclear power currently accounting for about 15 percent of global use.

Can Nuclear Power Reduce Emissions? …

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