Journal Article - Issues in Science and Technology

Nuclear Power Needs Leadership, but Not from the Military

| Summer 2018
SM-1 deactivated nuclear power plant at Fort Belvoir, Virginia:
SM-1 deactivated nuclear power plant at Fort Belvoir, Virginia: Currently maintained in safe storage, decommissioning planning currently underway, implementation of decommissioning activities anticipated to begin 2020. U.S. Army Photo.

For much of the atomic age, the United States led the world in developing and deploying nuclear technologies. Despite building the world's largest fleet of reactors—99 of which remain operational—and seeding most of the designs built worldwide, US commercial nuclear development has dramatically slowed.

Indeed, the nuclear power industry now faces unprecedented—arguably existential—challenges. The nation's demand for electricity has decreased, and the power distribution grid is rapidly becoming decentralized. Nuclear power is having trouble competing in current deregulated energy markets dominated by low-cost natural gas and renewable energy sources. The industry hasn't been able to build new power plants within budget and in a timely manner, as recent efforts in South Carolina and Georgia illustrate. There are concerns about safety, waste management, and nuclear proliferation. And efforts to develop advanced reactors that might meet these challenges have lagged. The industry can't afford major research and development, and efforts by the Department of Energy, once a prime mover in reactor development, have been moribund as a result of inadequate funding and leadership....

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For Academic Citation:

Ford, Michael J, Ahmed Abdulla and M. Granger Morgan. "Nuclear Power Needs Leadership, but Not from the Military." Issues in Science and Technology, (Summer 2018).

The Authors