In the 21st century the world faces the new challenge of drastically reducing emissions of greenhouse gases while simultaneously expanding access to energy and economic opportunity for billions of people. In a recent MIT study we have examined this challenge in the electricity sector, which has been widely identified as an early candidate for deep decarbonization. In most regions, serving projected electricity load in 2050 while simultaneously reducing greenhouse gas emissions will require a mix of electrical generation assets that is different from the current system. While a variety of low- or zero-carbon technologies can be employed in various combinations, our analysis shows that excluding nuclear energy as an option may significantly increase the cost of achieving deep decarbonization targets. The least-cost portfolios in our analysis include an important share for nuclear, and the magnitude of this share grows substantially as the cost of nuclear energy drops. Despite this promise, prospects for the expansion of nuclear energy remain decidedly dim in many parts of the world. We have examined what is needed to reverse that trend; the salient findings from our analyses will be presented in this talk.
Speaker: Jacopo Buongiorno, MIT
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Stanford, CA 94305
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