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Our central finding is that nuclear energy is a sustainable energy investment.

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The climate change mitigation potential of nuclear energy was found to have strong base in the TEG report. The TEG opened a public consultation for feedback on their report, running until 13th September Although uranium is perceived by some to be a finite resource with limited availability, the two previous periods of intense exploration s and s stimulated by increasing demand resulted in the identification of resources far beyond anticipated requirements.

Over 2. As of , identified conventional uranium resources are sufficient for years of supply at current rates of consumption. Arguments against nuclear energy often include the notion that accident risk and radioactive waste diminish the contribution of nuclear energy to sustainable development. Over 50 years of experience in OECD member countries demonstrates that responsibly managed nuclear power programmes have a very low safety risk and much smaller impacts on the environment and public health than other sources of energy especially with respect to emissions and air pollution.

Radioactive waste is probably the most important issue when considering the use of nuclear energy.


Progress has been made in reducing the volume of final waste and next-generation reactors will burn fuel even more efficiently. Nevertheless, remaining waste has to be addressed and long-term storage is currently the safest and most viable solution.

Nuclear Energy’s Role in Sustainable Development

While such waste needs to be handled with care, above-ground storage in specially designed casks over the past 50 years has been handled with great success and minimal environmental impact. While there is no technical urgency to implement geological storage of long-lived waste repositories, the construction and commissioning of such facilities demonstrate that the goals of sustainable development can be met.

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No other category of waste is recorded so precisely and stored so safely. Nuclear energy provides large amounts of virtually carbon-free baseload power at stable variable cost, contributing significantly to both the economic and the environmental dimension of sustainable development. While existing nuclear power plants are economically competitive in most cases and perform well in deregulated electricity markets, the economic competitiveness of new nuclear power plants will remain an issue due to their high capital cost.

Nuclear power in the 21st century: Challenges and possibilities

Once in operation, however, nuclear power plants have very low variable costs and are highly competitive, which makes the lifetime extension of existing plants such an attractive option. Of course, such extensions must be conducted under strict regulatory supervision, with all components subject to degradation replaced or upgraded.

The nuclear option internalises a large part of its external costs, such as the decommissioning of the plant at the end of its life and the management and disposal of the radioactive waste. Such a claim cannot be made by fossil fuel technologies, all of which emit waste to the environment. The social dimension of nuclear energy's contribution to sustainable development is ambivalent.

While nuclear energy contributes to the security of energy supply, local employment and technological development, it can also be politically divisive in some OECD member countries. Some of these reactions can be traced to associations with military uses of nuclear energy and more generalised concerns about technological progress and risk. The nuclear energy debate must equally address the issues of public perception along with economic, environmental and technical issues.

In order to meet sustainable development goals, nuclear energy will have to achieve a higher level of social acceptance than it enjoys in many countries today. The role of governments is to engage the public in dialogue on social, ethical and political issues related to nuclear energy in comparison to other energy alternatives. This dialogue will create informed decision-making processes and help advance the role of nuclear energy in the context of sustainable development.

Nuclear Energy: Combating Climate Change The global response to address climate change is a key policy challenge of the 21 st century. By that measure, nuclear power is very close to the same shade of green as that of most renewables. But evaluating energy supply options is an incredibly complex and multi-faceted exercise, and while greenness is important, it must be viewed in the context of other considerations. Decision-makers must weigh the GHG and other emissions from each energy source against such measures as cost; short- and long-term resource availability; the reliability of the overall energy supply 24 hours a day; and the security of the energy supply against interruptions by weather or by foreign suppliers.

3 Reasons Why Nuclear is Clean and Sustainable

These evaluations are not static. Resource discoveries and actions by foreign governments can affect supply, while technology developments and government decisions can affect a host of measures, including costs, availability, emissions and other measures. This article has considered only current energy-supply technologies, but a breakthrough in some areas could alter the comparative data significantly.

If it later proves to be technically feasible and economic, it could alter the discussion radically. So, too, could the development of fusion energy, or cheap energy storage for renewables.


At present, though, no single energy source excels in all measures. Each has some pros and cons, and most rational national policies seek to diversify their energy portfolios in order to take advantage of the benefits different energy-supply technologies offer and to ameliorate any disadvantages. Although nuclear power has some challenges — notably waste disposal — it appears to be one of the most attractive sources in terms of a small environmental footprint, reliable energy generation, security of the energy supply, and other important measures.

It should, therefore, be considered in this light in decision-making on future energy-supply options. Browse all.

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