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Nuclear Power and Our Energy Choices

What is the role of this controversial technology in our path toward a clean, sustainable energy future?

At UCS, our primary focus when it comes to nuclear power is making it safer. But beyond safety and security issues, we have also looked at two important questions about how nuclear power fits into our energy mix, today and in the future:

  • What is the role of nuclear power in reducing the threat of global warming?
  • Is nuclear power a cost-effective, economically viable technology?

Nuclear Power and Global Warming

Operating nuclear power plants do not produce significant carbon emissions, a fact which has led many observers to propose an expansion of nuclear power as a strategy to address global warming.

However, while it is true that replacing coal plants with nuclear plants would have a positive impact on global warming, it would also bring risks and costs of its own. How does nuclear power stack up against other strategies to transform our energy landscape, such as renewables and energy efficiency?

Nuclear Power Costs

Nuclear power plants are extremely costly to build and operate, making it difficult to run them profitably. In the past, the nuclear industry has often relied on government subsidies to compete in the energy marketplace—and these subsidies have in some cases grown so large per kilowatt produced that it would have been cheaper for the government to buy the power on the open market.

An expansion of U.S. nuclear power will require more public support. Would this be a wise investment? To answer this question, UCS experts have analyzed the cost-effectiveness of new nuclear power plants compared to other alternatives for meeting our future energy needs.

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