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Despite the regional differences in the development plans, the main questions are of common interest to all countries, and require solutions in order to maintain nuclear power in the power mix of contributing to sustainable economic growth.


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The questions include i maintaining safe operation of the nuclear plants, ii securing the fuel supplies, iii a strategy for the management of radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel. The nuclear countries have signed the corresponding agreements and the majority of them have created the necessary legal and regulatory structure Nuclear Safety Authority.

As regards radioactive wastes, particularly high-level wastes HLW and spent fuel SF most of the countries have long-term policies. The establishment of new nuclear units and the associated nuclear technology developments offer new perspectives, which may need reconsideration of fuel cycle policies and more active regional and global co-operation. In the frame of the open fuel cycle, the spent fuel will be taken to final disposal without recycling. Deep geological repositories are the only available option for isolating the highly radioactive materials for a very long time from the biosphere.

France and the Netherlands which will allow for permanent access and inspection. The main advantage of the open fuel cycle is its simplicity. The spent fuel assemblies are first stored in interim storage for several years or decades, then they will be placed in special containers and moved into deep underground storage facilities. The report discusses the challenges associated with different strategies to manage spent nuclear fuel, in respect of both open cycles and steps towards closing the nuclear fuel cycle. It integrates the conclusions on the issues raised on sustainability, safety, non-proliferation and security, economics, public involvement and on the decision-making process.

Recently Vandenbosch et al. One complication of the nuclear waste storage problem is that the minor actinides represent a high activity see Fig. This might be a difficult challenge if the storage is to be operated economically together with the fuel fabrication. The conventional closed fuel cycle strategy uses the reprocessing of the spent fuel following interim storage. The main components which can be further utilised U and Pu are recycled to fuel manufacturing MOX Mixed Oxide fuel fabrication , whilst the smaller volume of residual waste in appropriately conditioned form—e.

The advanced closed fuel cycle strategy is similar to the conventional one, but within this strategy the minor actinides are also removed during reprocessing. The separated isotopes are transmuted in combination with power generation and only the net reprocessing wastes and those conditioned wastes generated during transmutation will be, following appropriate encapsulation, disposed of in deep geological repositories. The main factor that determines the overall storage capacity of a long-term repository is the heat content of nuclear waste, not its volume. During the anticipated repository time, the specific heat generated during the decay of the stored HLW must always stay below a dedicated value prescribed by the storage concept and the geological host information.

The waste that results from reprocessing spent fuel from thermal reactors has a lower heat content after a period of cooling than does the spent fuel itself. Thus, it can be stored more densely. A modern light water reactor of 1 GWe capacity will typically discharge about 20—25 tonnes of irradiated fuel per year of operation. About 0. These latter elements accumulate in nuclear fuel because of neutron capture, and they contribute significantly to decay heat loading and neutron output, as well as to the overall radiotoxic hazard of spent fuel.

To address the issue of sustainability of nuclear energy, in particular the use of natural resources, fast neutron reactors FNRs must be developed, since they can typically multiply by over a factor 50 the energy production from a given amount of uranium fuel compared to current reactors.

Through hardening the spectrum a fast reactor can be designed to burn minor actinides giving a FCR larger than unity which allows breeding of fissile materials. Important research and development is currently being coordinated at the international level through initiatives such as GIF. In , six reactor technologies were selected which GIF believe represent the future of nuclear energy. These were selected from the many various approaches being studied on the basis of being clean, safe and cost-effective means of meeting increased energy demands on a sustainable basis.

Furthermore, they are considered being resistant to diversion of materials for weapons proliferation and secure from terrorist attacks. The continued research and development will focus on the chosen six reactor approaches. Most of the six systems employ a closed fuel cycle to maximise the resource base and minimise high-level wastes to be sent to a repository. Only one is cooled by light water, two are helium-cooled and the others have lead—bismuth, sodium or fluoride salt coolant. The latter three operate at low pressure, with significant safety advantage. The last has the uranium fuel dissolved in the circulating coolant.

This is designed for distributed generation or desalination.


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At least four of the systems have significant operating experience already in most respects of their design, which provides a good basis for further research and development and is likely to mean that they can be in commercial operation well before However, when addressing non-proliferation concerns it is significant that fast neutron reactors are not conventional fast breeders, i.

Instead, plutonium production happens to take place in the core, where burn-up is high and the proportion of plutonium isotopes other than Pu remains high. In addition, new reprocessing technologies will enable the fuel to be recycled without separating the plutonium. It suggested that the Generation IV technologies most likely to be deployed first are the SFR, the lead-cooled fast reactor LFR and the very high temperature reactor technologies. The molten salt reactor and the GFR were shown as furthest from demonstration phase. Europe, through sustainable nuclear energy technology platform SNETP and ESNII, has defined its own strategy and priorities for FNRs with the goal to demonstrate Generation IV reactor technologies that can close the nuclear fuel cycle, provide long-term waste management solutions and expand the applications of nuclear fission beyond electricity production to hydrogen production, industrial heat and desalination; The SFR as a proven concept, as well as the LFR as a short-medium term alternative and the GFR as a longer-term alternative technology.

Astrid Advanced Sodium Technological Reactor for Industrial Demonstration is based on about 45 reactor-years of operational experience in France and will be rated to MWe. It is expected to be built at Marcoule from , with the unit being connected to the grid in Allegro GFR is to be built in eastern Europe, and is more innovative.

Allegro is expected to begin construction in operate from The industrial demonstrator would follow it. Later, it could become a European fast neutron technology pilot plant for lead and a multi-purpose research reactor. A reduced-power model of Myrrha called Guinevere started up at Mol in March Construction on Alfred could begin in and the unit could start operating in Research and development topics to meet the top-level criteria established within the GIF forum in the context of simultaneously matching economics as well as stricter safety criteria set-up by the WENRA FNR demand substantial improvements with respect to the following issues:.

Advanced separation both via aqueous processes supplementing the PUREX process as well as pyroprocessing, which is mandatory for the reprocessing of the high MA-containing fuels,. In addition, supporting research infrastructures, irradiation facilities, experimental loops and fuel fabrication facilities, will need to be constructed. Regarding transmutation, the accelerator-driven transmutation systems ADS technology must be compared to FNR technology from the point of view of feasibility, transmutation efficiency and cost efficiency.

From the economical point of view, the ADS industrial solution should be assessed in terms of its contribution to closing the fuel cycle. Transmutation of the minor actinides is achieved through fission reactions and therefore fast neutrons are preferred in dedicated burners. At the European level, four building blocks strategy for Partitioning and Transmutation have been identified. These blocks are:.

Demonstration of the capability to fabricate at semi-industrial level dedicated transmuter fuel heavily loaded in minor actinides;. Fabrication of new transmuter fuel together with demonstration of advanced reprocessing of transmuter fuel. MYRRHA will support this Roadmap by playing the role of an ADS prototype at reasonable power level and as a flexible irradiation facility providing fast neutrons for the qualification of materials and fuel for an industrial transmuter.

MYRRHA will be not only capable of irradiating samples of such inert matrix fuels but also of housing fuel pins or even a limited number of fuel assemblies heavily loaded with MAs for irradiation and qualification purposes. Nuclear fusion research, on the basis of magnetic confinement, considered in this report, has been actively pursued in Europe from the mids.

Fusion research has the goal to achieve a clean and sustainable energy source for many generations to come. In parallel with basic high-temperature plasma research, the fusion technology programme is pursued as well as the economy of a future fusion reactor Ward et al.

The organisation of the research has resulted in a well-focused common fusion research programme. The members of the EUROfusion 7 consortium are 29 national fusion laboratories. The Roadmap outlines the most efficient way to realise fusion electricity. The most successful confinement concepts are toroidal ones like tokamaks and helical systems like stellarators Wagner , To avoid drift losses, two magnetic field components are necessary for confinement and stability—the toroidal and the poloidal field component. Due to their superposition, the magnetic field winds helically around a system of nested toroids.

In both cases, tokamak and stellarator, the toroidal field is produced by external coils; the poloidal field arises from a strong toroidal plasma current in tokamaks. In case of helical systems all necessary fields are produced externally by coils which have to be superconductive when steady-state operation is intended. Europe is constructing the most ambitious stellarator, Wendelstein 7-X in Germany. It is a fully optimised system with promising features.

W7-X goes into operation in Fusion research has now reached plasma parameters needed for a fusion reactor, even if not all parameters are reached simultaneously in a single plasma discharge see Fig. The record parameters given as of today are shown together with the fusion experiment of its achievement in Fig.

The achieved parameters and the missing factors to the ultimate goal of a fusion reactor are summarised below:. Fusion triple product see Fig. Progress in fusion parameters. Many international projects their names are given by acronyms in the figure have contributed to the development of fusion plasma parameters and the progress in fusion research which serves as the basis for the ITER design. But still many problems have to be overcome as detailed below:. Schematic layout of the ITER reactor experiment from www.

In the field of technology, ITER will demonstrate fundamental aspects of fusion as the self-heating of the plasma by alpha-particles, show the essentials to a fusion reactor in an integrated system, give the first test a breeding blanket and assess the technology and its efficiency, breed tritium from lithium utilising the D-T fusion neutron, develop scenarios and materials with low T-inventories. ITER will be based on conventional steel as structural material.

Its inner wall will be covered with beryllium to surround the plasma with low-Z metal with low inventory properties. An important step in fusion reactor development is the achievement of licensing of the complete system. The rewards from fusion research and the realisation of a fusion reactor can be described in the following points:.

But as a recommendation, the fusion development has to be accelerated,. A study conducted by the National Academy of Science found that carcinogenic effects of radiation does increase with dose. This was on the high range of what theory predicted by LNT, but was "statistically compatible". In the United States Congress requested the National Cancer Institute to conduct a study of cancer mortality rates around nuclear plants and other facilities covering to focusing on the change after operation started of the respective facilities. They concluded in no link. In the University of Pittsburgh found no link to heightened cancer deaths in people living within 5 miles of plant at the time of the Three Mile Island accident.

The same year, the Illinois Public Health Department found no statistical abnormality of childhood cancers in counties with nuclear plants. Also that year, the American Cancer Society investigated cancer clusters around nuclear plants and concluded no link to radiation noting that cancer clusters occur regularly due to unrelated reasons. Again in , the Florida Bureau of Environmental Epidemiology reviewed claims of increased cancer rates in counties with nuclear plants, however, using the same data as the claimants, they observed no abnormalities.

Scientists learned about exposure to high level radiation from studies of the effects of bombing populations at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. However, it is difficult to trace the relationship of low level radiation exposure to resulting cancers and mutations. Since nuclear generating plants have a brief history, it is early to judge the effects. Most human exposure to radiation comes from natural background radiation.

Natural sources of radiation amount to an average annual radiation dose of millirems 0. In its report, " Sources and effects of ionizing radiation ", [] the UNSCEAR also gives some values for areas where the radiation background is very high. Plans call for different zones, defined by distance from the plant and prevailing weather conditions and protective actions. In the reference cited, the plans detail different categories of emergencies and the protective actions including possible evacuation.

A German study on childhood cancer in the vicinity of nuclear power plants called "the KiKK study" was published in December It red a 2. It found that the control sample of population used for comparison in the German study may have been incorrectly selected and other possible contributory factors, such as socio-economic ranking, were not taken into consideration. The committee concluded that there is no significant evidence of an association between risk of childhood leukemia in under 5 year olds and living in proximity to a nuclear power plant.

Some developing countries which plan to go nuclear have very poor industrial safety records and problems with political corruption. He Zuoxiu , who was involved with China's atomic bomb program, has said that plans to expand production of nuclear energy twentyfold by could be disastrous, as China was seriously underprepared on the safety front. China's fast-expanding nuclear sector is opting for cheap technology that "will be years old by the time dozens of its reactors reach the end of their lifespans", according to diplomatic cables from the US embassy in Beijing.

China has asked for international assistance in training more nuclear power plant inspectors. According to Mark Z. Jacobson , the growth of nuclear power has "historically increased the ability of nations to obtain or enrich uranium for nuclear weapons , and a large-scale worldwide increase in nuclear energy facilities would exacerbate this problem, putting the world at greater risk of a nuclear war or terrorism catastrophe". Nuclear reactors become preferred targets during military conflict and, over the past three decades, have been repeatedly attacked during military air strikes, occupations, invasions and campaigns: [].

According to a report by the U. Congressional Budget Office , "The human, environmental, and economic costs from a successful attack on a nuclear power plant that results in the release of substantial quantities of radioactive material to the environment could be great. If nuclear power use is to expand significantly, nuclear facilities will have to be made extremely safe from attacks that could release massive quantities of radioactivity into the environment and community.

New reactor designs have features of passive safety , such as the flooding of the reactor core without active intervention by reactor operators. But these safety measures have generally been developed and studied with respect to accidents, not to the deliberate reactor attack by a terrorist group. However, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission now also requires new reactor license applications to consider security during the design stage. An additional concern with nuclear power plants is that if the by-products of nuclear fission the nuclear waste generated by the plant were to be left unprotected it could be stolen and used as a radiological weapon , colloquially known as a " dirty bomb ".

There were incidents in post-Soviet Russia of nuclear plant workers attempting to sell nuclear materials for this purpose. There are additional concerns that the transportation of nuclear waste along roadways or railways opens it up for potential theft. The United Nations has since called upon world leaders to improve security in order to prevent radioactive material falling into the hands of terrorists , [] and such fears have been used as justifications for centralized, permanent, and secure waste repositories and increased security along transportation routes.

Proponents state that the spent fissile fuel is not radioactive enough to create any sort of effective nuclear weapon, in a traditional sense where the radioactive material is the means of explosion. Nuclear reprocessing plants also acquire uranium from spent reactor fuel and take the remaining waste into their custody.

There is little support across the world for building new nuclear reactors, a poll for the BBC indicates. The global research agency GlobeScan , commissioned by BBC News, polled 23, people in 23 countries from July to September , several months after the Fukushima nuclear disaster. In countries with existing nuclear programs, people are significantly more opposed than they were in , with only the UK and US bucking the trend and being more supportive of nuclear power. Most believe that boosting energy efficiency and renewable energy can meet their needs. In , Deutsche Bank analysts concluded that "the global impact of the Fukushima accident is a fundamental shift in public perception with regard to how a nation prioritizes and values its populations health, safety, security, and natural environment when determining its current and future energy pathways".

As a consequence, " renewable energy will be a clear long-term winner in most energy systems, a conclusion supported by many voter surveys conducted over the past few weeks. At the same time, we consider natural gas to be, at the very least, an important transition fuel, especially in those regions where it is considered secure". This poll showed that respondents with a lower level of education and that women were less likely to approve.

A poll found that skepticism over nuclear power had grown in Sweden following Japan's nuclear crisis.

Nuclear Power and the Energy Crisis Politics and the Atomic Industry Trade Policy Research Centre

What had been growing acceptance of nuclear power in the United States was eroded sharply following the Japanese nuclear accidents , with support for building nuclear power plants in the U. Only 43 percent of those polled 10 days after the Fukushima nuclear emergency said they would approve building new power plants in the United States. This is the first time in American history that more people were measured as opposing nuclear energy than supporting it. The two energy sources that attracted the highest levels of support in the MIT Energy Survey were solar power and wind power.

Outright majorities would choose to "increase a lot" use of these two sources, and over three out of four Americans would like to increase these sources in the U. Fourteen percent of respondents would like to see nuclear power "increase a lot". As of 12 October , a total of nuclear reactors were operating in 30 countries, four more than the historical maximum of in The current world reactor fleet has a total nominal capacity of about gigawatts.

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Despite six fewer units operating in than in , the capacity is about 9 gigawatts higher. Stephanie Cooke has argued that the cost of building new reactors is extremely high, as are the risks involved. Most utilities have said that they won't build new plants without government loan guarantees. There are also bottlenecks at factories that produce reactor pressure vessels and other equipment, and there is a shortage of qualified personnel to build and operate the reactors, [] although the recent acceleration in nuclear power plant construction is drawing a substantial expansion of the heavy engineering capability.

Following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster , the International Energy Agency halved its estimate of additional nuclear generating capacity to be built by In September , German engineering giant Siemens announced it will withdraw entirely from the nuclear industry, as a response to the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan. They are much more expensive, and the energy that comes out is of inferior quality. Energy-intensive industries will move out, and the competitiveness of the German manufacturing sector will be reduced or wages will be depressed.

In , Mycle Schneider spoke of a global downward trend in the nuclear power industry:. The international nuclear lobby has pursued a year-long, massive propaganda strategy aimed at convincing decision-makers that atomic technology has a bright future as a low-carbon energy option The historic maximum of reactors operating worldwide was achieved in with units. In the European Union the historic peak was reached as early as with reactors, of which only are left. The only new projects underway in Europe are heavily over budget and much delayed.

As Time magazine rightly stated in March, "Nuclear power is expanding only in places where taxpayers and ratepayers can be compelled to foot the bill. Even there, though, nuclear is fading as an energy option. In contrast, proponents of nuclear power argue that nuclear power has killed by far the fewest people per terawatt hour of any type of power generation, and it has a very small effect on the environment with effectively zero emissions of any kind.

Nuclear power in the 21st century: Challenges and possibilities

This is argued even taking into account the Chernobyl and Fukushima accidents, in which few people were killed directly and few excess cancers will be caused by releases of radioactivity to the environment. Some proponents acknowledge that most people will not accept this sort of statistical argument nor will they believe reassuring statements from industry or government.

Indeed, the industry itself has created fear of nuclear power by pointing out that radioactivity can be dangerous. Improved communication by industry might help to overcome current fears regarding nuclear power, but it will be a difficult task to change current perceptions in the general population. But with regard to the proposition that "Improved communication by industry might help to overcome current fears regarding nuclear power", Princeton University Physicist M.

Ramana says that the basic problem is that there is "distrust of the social institutions that manage nuclear energy", and a survey by the European Commission found that "only This public distrust is periodically reinforced by safety violations by nuclear companies, [ citation needed ] or through ineffectiveness or corruption on the part of nuclear regulatory authorities. Once lost, says Ramana, trust is extremely difficult to regain. Ramana says that none of these strategies have been very successful. In March , E. In terms of current nuclear status and future prospects: [].

Brazil, China, India, Japan and the Netherlands generate more electricity from wind energy than from nuclear sources. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about the primary issues upon which people differ in their assessments as to the value, role and relative safety of nuclear power.

For nuclear energy policies by nation, see Nuclear energy policy. For public protests about nuclear power, see Anti-nuclear movement. For public support for nuclear energy, see Pro-nuclear movement. See also: Energy security and Uranium mining. Main articles: Economics of new nuclear power plants and Nuclear power in the European Union.

Main article: Nuclear decommissioning. Main article: Environmental effects of nuclear power. See also: Uranium mining debate and Lists of nuclear disasters and radioactive incidents. Main article: Life-cycle greenhouse-gas emissions of energy sources. Main article: High-level radioactive waste management. See also: Nuclear safety , Nuclear and radiation accidents , and Lists of nuclear disasters and radioactive incidents.

Main article: Chernobyl explosion. Main article: Fukushima nuclear disaster. Main article: Three Mile Island accident. See also: Nuclear whistleblowers and List of nuclear whistleblowers. See also: Nuclear proliferation and List of crimes involving radioactive substances. See also: Vulnerability of nuclear plants to attack. Main article: Public opinion on nuclear issues.

Nuclear energy challenges in Japan

This article needs to be updated. In particular: cited polls are from , over 12 years ago.

Please update this section to reflect recent events or newly available information. December See also: Nuclear renaissance , Pro-nuclear movement , and Anti-nuclear movement. Anti-nuclear movement Atomic Age Energy development List of anti-nuclear protests in the United States List of books about nuclear issues List of canceled nuclear plants in the United States List of nuclear whistleblowers Lists of nuclear disasters and radioactive incidents Loss-of-coolant accident Nuclear contamination Nuclear fuel cycle Nuclear Liabilities Fund Nuclear power phase-out Nuclear power in the United States Nuclear power proposed as renewable energy Nuclear whistleblowers Nuclear safety Nuclear terrorism Passive nuclear safety Radiophobia Renewable energy debate.

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