Our Industry > Nuclear Power: Clean Energy for the Future > Answering the Call for Sustainable Development

Answering the Call for Sustainable Development

The future of civilization will depend upon the indefinite supply of electricity.  Clearly, there is a limit to the supply of fossil fuels.  The most optimistic estimates have fossil fuel lasting no more than 100 years; however, they may become economically undesirable in much less time.  Obviously wind, solar, and tidal can sustain our world with power indefinitely.

Nuclear power is a ‘sustainable development’ technology because its:

  • Fuel will be available for multiple centuries.
  • Safety record is superior among major energy sources.
  • Consumption causes virtually no pollution.
  • Use preserves valuable fossil resources for future generations.
  • Costs are competitive and still declining.
  • Waste can be securely managed over the long-term.

India and China, which alone constitute 40% of humanity, are fast advancing economically. Each nation has vast quantities of coal and a small but technologically sophisticated nuclear power industry that has begun to grow. No question belongs higher on the world agenda than how these and other developing countries will meet their rapidly intensifying energy needs.

At stake is the future of the biosphere.

In the right configuration, nuclear power can provide electricity for generations.  The right configuration is in the "Breeder Reactor."  The design of the breeder reactor is such that even as fuel is consumed, new fuel is created as a byproduct.  Only a few breeder reactor plants have been built.  Since plutonium - a material used in nuclear weapons - is created in these plants, governments have been hesitant to allow their construction.  Nonetheless, applying the breeder concept can reduce fuel prices so low that even the extraction of uranium from the worlds oceans would not be an overly expensive endeavor.  In an article printed in the American Journal of Physics (vol. 51, Jan. 1983, B. Cohen), there is enough uranium in all the worlds oceans and the earths crust under the oceans to last 5 billion years (assuming that 6500 metric tons of uranium is removed annually).  For all practical purposes, this is a reliable power source for all time.

The International Energy Agency of the OECD is the intergovernmental body that analyses global energy demand. In the private sector, the World Energy Council performs similar assessments. Both organizations have reached the same conclusion:

Our world cannot meet its expanding energy needs – cleanly – without a sharp expansion of nuclear energy.

(excerpted from World Nuclear Association's autoessay "Energy for Sustainable Development")


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