Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies Program on Energy and Sustainable Development Stanford University


Publications




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Game Changers for Nuclear Energy

Occasional Paper

Authors
Katherine D. Marvel - Perry Fellow at CISAC, Stanford University
Michael M. May - Professor of Management Science and Engineering, Emeritus; FSI Senior Fellow; CISAC Faculty Member at Stanford University

Published by
The American Academy of Arts & Sciences, June 2011


From Game Changers for Nuclear Energy, p. 1

Anticipating the future is difficult in any situation, but assessing the prospects for nuclear power in the next fifty years presents especially complex challenges. The public perception of nuclear power has changed and continues to change. Once viewed as a miracle of modern technology, nuclear power came to be perceived by many as a potential catastrophe; now it is viewed as a potential, albeit potentially still dangerous, source of green power. Conventional wisdom in the 1960s held that nuclear power could dominate the electricity sectors of developed countries, while less than twenty years later, many predicted the complete demise of the U.S. nuclear industry following the Three Mile Island accident in 1979. Yet neither attitude fully forecast the situation today: a nuclear industry that is not dominant, but is far from dead. Indeed, the history of long-range planning for nuclear power serves as a caution for anyone wishing to make predictions about the state of the industry over the next half-century. Nonetheless, it is critical to assess its role in the future energy mix: decisions taken now will impact the energy sector for many years. This assessment requires both a review of past planning strategies and a new approach that considers alternate scenarios that may differ radically from business as usual.