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Special Issue "Sustainability and Nuclear Power"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Energy Sustainability".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 December 2016)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Barry D. Solomon

Graduate Program in Environmental and Energy Policy, Department of Social Sciences, Michigan Technological University, 1400 Townsend Drive, Houghton, MI 49931-1295, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: biofuels; bioenergy; energy policy; nuclear power; renewable energy

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

While nuclear power was widely believed to be the energy source of the future when it was first developed in the 1950s and 1960s, the rate of power plant construction has dramatically slowed in the last few decades. Moreover, new nuclear plants are being built in only a few countries, most notably China, Russia, India, South Korea, United Arab Emirates, and the USA. This is largely attributable to excessive capital costs, several risks, but, notably, serious nuclear plant accidents, such as those that occurred at Chernobyl and Fukushima Daiichi, and the as of yet unsolved problem of long-term radioactive waste disposal. Even so, advocates point to nuclear power’s benefits of no air pollution, safe, reliable, and low-cost plant operations, and reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the context of increasing global climate change. The purpose of this Special Issue is to review, debate and critique the sustainability dimensions of nuclear power, based on the latest understanding of nuclear reactor technologies (including fusion, as well as fission), economic costs, climate change and other externalities, human health, and other social issues. We invite all papers on the sustainability dimensions of nuclear power, whether pro, anti or agnostic. Potential authors should review some of the key literature cited herein, and in their papers critically examine multiple sustainability challenges. These include the short and long-term costs of nuclear power, nuclear fuel supply, environmental issues including air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, nuclear risks, such as radiation exposure, reactor accidents and nuclear weapons proliferation, reactor decommissioning, and long-term disposal and management of radioactive wastes. Papers that examine several dimensions of sustainability are especially welcome, with or without the use of sustainability metrics. Papers on nuclear fusion are also encouraged. In addition, case studies might address the regional, geographic or international differences and variations in the sustainability of nuclear power. The intent of this Special Issue is to build on the existing literature in a more integrated and interdisciplinary manner without a preconceived bias for or against both nuclear fission and fusion power.

Prof. Dr. Barry D. Solomon
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

References

  1. Adamantiades, A.; Kessides, I. Nuclear power for sustainable development: Current status and future prospects. Energy Policy 2009, 37, 5149–5166.
  2. Bradshaw, A.M.; Hamacher, T.; Fischer, U. Is nuclear fusion a sustainable energy form? Fusion Eng. Des. 2011, 86, 2770–2773.
  3. Deutch, J.M.; Forsberg, C.W.; Kadak, A.C.; Kazimi, M.S.; Moniz, E.J.; Parsons, Y.D.; Pierpoint, L. Update of the MIT 2003 Future of Nuclear Power: An Interdisciplinary MIT Study; MIT Energy Initiative, Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Cambridge, MA, USA, 2009.
  4. Elliot, D. Nuclear or Not? Does Nuclear Power Have a Place in A Sustainable Energy Future?; Palgrave Macmillan: Basingstoke, UK, 2007.
  5. Everett, B.; Boyle, G.; Peake, S.; Ramage, J.; Eds. Energy Systems and Sustainability: Power for a Sustainable Future, 2nd ed.; Oxford University Press: Oxford, UK, 2012.
  6. Fang, B.; Tan, Y.; Li, C.; Cao, Y.; Liu, J.; Schweizer, P.J.; Shi, H.; Zhou, B.; Chen, H.; Hu, Z. Energy sustainability under the framework of telecoupling. Energy 2016, 106, 253–259.
  7. Fiore, K. Nuclear energy and sustainability: Understanding ITER. Energy Policy 2006, 34, 3334–3341.
  8. Forsberg, C.W. Sustainability by combining nuclear, fossil, and renewable energy sources. Nucl. Energy 2009, 51, 192–200.
  9. Greenspan, E. A phased development of breed-and-burn reactors for enhanced nuclear energy sustainability. Sustainability 2012, 4, 2745–2764.
  10. Karakosta, C.; Pappas, C.; Marinakis, V.; Psarras, J. Renewable energy and nuclear power towards sustainable development: Characteristics and prospects. Sustain. Energy Rev. 2013, 22, 187–197.
  11. Pearce, J.M. Limitations of nuclear power as a sustainable energy source. Sustainability 2012, 4, 1173–1187.
  12. Ramana, M.V. Nuclear power: Economic, safety, health, and environmental issues of near-term technologies. Rev. Environ. Resour. 2009, 34, 127–152.
  13. Rohatgi, U.S.; Jo, J.H.; Lee, J.C.; Bari, R.A. Impact of the nuclear option on the environment and the economy. Technol. 2002, 137, 252–264.
  14. Rothwell, C.; Van der Zwaan, B.C.C. Are light water reactor systems sustainable? Energy Dev. 2003, 29, 65–79.
  15. Sailor, W.C.; Bodansky. D.; Braun, C.; Fetter, S.; Van der Zwaan, B. Nuclear power: A nuclear solution to climate change? Science 2000, 288, 1177–1178.
  16. Sovacool, B. Contesting the Future of Nuclear Power: A Critical Global Assessment of Atomic Energy; World Scientific: Hackensack, NJ, USA, 2011.
  17. Verbruggen, A.; Laes, E.; Lemmens, S. Assessment of the actual sustainability of nuclear fission power. Sustain. Energy Rev. 2014, 32, 16–28.

Keywords

  • climate change
  • economics of nuclear power
  • life cycle analysis
  • nuclear energy
  • nuclear weapons proliferation
  • nuclear risk acceptance
  • radioactive waste management
  • sustainability

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle International Project Risk Management for Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) Construction: Featuring Comparative Analysis with Fossil and Gas Power Plants
Sustainability 2017, 9(3), 469; doi:10.3390/su9030469
Received: 18 December 2016 / Revised: 10 March 2017 / Accepted: 15 March 2017 / Published: 21 March 2017
PDF Full-text (5426 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The concern of risk management has continuously increased in international construction projects. International projects have a high level of risk and complexity, which results in greater possibilities of cost overruns and schedule conflicts when compared with local projects. Therefore, the goal of risk
[...] Read more.
The concern of risk management has continuously increased in international construction projects. International projects have a high level of risk and complexity, which results in greater possibilities of cost overruns and schedule conflicts when compared with local projects. Therefore, the goal of risk management is to improve project performance by systematically identifying and assessing project risks, developing strategies to reduce or avoid risks and to maximize opportunities. However, there have been very limited studies in systemized risk management methods due to the unstructured nature of the risk items and knowledge, especially for nuclear power plant projects. In order to address this issue, this paper proposes a standardized risk management methodology for nuclear power plant (NPP) construction with a capability of comparing distinctive risk characteristics among fossil, gas, and nuclear power plants. The proposed methodology includes standard risk classifications and structured risk evaluation techniques in terms of likelihood, impact, and weightings for different types of power plants. It also defines risk packages and risk paths for effective manipulation in a structured manner. The proposed methodology, variables, and initial values were identified by an extensive literature review and expert interviews. Finally, a customizable prototype of risk management system in power-plant construction projects was proposed in order to examine the viability. Implications of this paper reveal that the nuclear power plant has much higher risks in all areas when compared with fossil and gas power plants. It was stressed, throughout this study, that the risk factors of nuclear power plant construction need to be continuously monitored and evaluated in order to explore sustainable nuclear power plants. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Nuclear Power)
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Open AccessArticle Sustainability, Ethics and Nuclear Energy: Escaping the Dichotomy
Sustainability 2017, 9(3), 446; doi:10.3390/su9030446
Received: 2 January 2017 / Revised: 2 March 2017 / Accepted: 3 March 2017 / Published: 17 March 2017
PDF Full-text (244 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In this paper we suggest considering sustainability as a moral framework based on social justice, which can be used to evaluate technological choices. In order to make sustainability applicable to discussions of nuclear energy production and waste management, we focus on three key
[...] Read more.
In this paper we suggest considering sustainability as a moral framework based on social justice, which can be used to evaluate technological choices. In order to make sustainability applicable to discussions of nuclear energy production and waste management, we focus on three key ethical questions, namely: (i) what should be sustained; (ii) why should we sustain it; and (iii) for whom should we sustain it. This leads us to conceptualize the notion of sustainability as a set of values, including safety, security, environmental benevolence, resource durability, and economic viability of the technology. The practical usefulness of sustainability as a moral framework is highlighted by demonstrating how it is applicable for understanding intergenerational dilemmas—between present and future generations, but also among different future generations—related to nuclear fuel cycles and radioactive waste management. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Nuclear Power)
Open AccessArticle Feasibility Study of the Post-2020 Commitment to the Power Generation Sector in South Korea
Sustainability 2017, 9(2), 307; doi:10.3390/su9020307
Received: 6 December 2016 / Revised: 14 February 2017 / Accepted: 15 February 2017 / Published: 20 February 2017
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Abstract
We analyze the economic effects of greenhouse gases (GHG) reduction measures of the generation sector of South Korea to accomplish the 2030 GHG reduction target using a scenario-based approach. We estimate the GHG emission of the South Korean power industry in 2030 based
[...] Read more.
We analyze the economic effects of greenhouse gases (GHG) reduction measures of the generation sector of South Korea to accomplish the 2030 GHG reduction target using a scenario-based approach. We estimate the GHG emission of the South Korean power industry in 2030 based on both the 7th Electricity Supply and Demand Plan and the GHG emission coefficients issued by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). We establish four scenarios for reduction measures by replacing the coal-fired power plants with nuclear power, renewable energy and carbon capture and storage, and liquefied natural gas (LNG) combined cycle generation. Finally, the nuclear power scenario demonstrates the most positive measure in terms of GHG reduction and economic effects. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Nuclear Power)
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Open AccessArticle Positioning Nuclear Power in the Low-Carbon Electricity Transition
Sustainability 2017, 9(1), 163; doi:10.3390/su9010163
Received: 4 December 2016 / Revised: 15 January 2017 / Accepted: 18 January 2017 / Published: 23 January 2017
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (1455 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Addressing climate change requires de-carbonizing future energy supplies in an increasingly energy-dependent world. The IEA and the IPCC (2014) mention the following as low-carbon energy supply options: ‘renewable energy, nuclear power and fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage’. Positioning nuclear power in
[...] Read more.
Addressing climate change requires de-carbonizing future energy supplies in an increasingly energy-dependent world. The IEA and the IPCC (2014) mention the following as low-carbon energy supply options: ‘renewable energy, nuclear power and fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage’. Positioning nuclear power in the decarbonization transition is a problematic issue and is overridden by ill-conceived axioms. Before probing these axioms, we provide an overview of five major, postwar energy-related legacies and some insight into who is engaged in nuclear activities. We check whether low-carbon nuclear power passes the full sustainability test and whether it is compatible with the unfettered deployment of variable renewable power sourced from the sun and from wind and water currents, which delivers two negative answers. We show that the best approach of the sustainable energy transition was Germany’s 2011 decision to phase out nuclear power for a fast development and full deployment of renewable power. This is the best approach for the sustainable energy transition. We offer five practical suggestions to strengthen and accelerate carbon- and nuclear-free transitions. They are related to institutional issues like the role of cost-benefit analysis and the mission of the International Atomic Energy Agency, to the costs of nuclear risks and catastrophes, and to the historical record of nuclear technology and business. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Nuclear Power)
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Open AccessArticle Nutrient Status in Composts and Changes in Radioactive Cesium Following the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Accident
Sustainability 2016, 8(12), 1332; doi:10.3390/su8121332
Received: 29 September 2016 / Revised: 12 December 2016 / Accepted: 12 December 2016 / Published: 21 December 2016
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Abstract
Following the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (FDNPP) accident, the forests in the Fukushima area were highly contaminated with radiocesium (137Cs and 134Cs). Therefore, there is a need to develop strategies for remediation of the contaminated forests. We assessed changes
[...] Read more.
Following the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (FDNPP) accident, the forests in the Fukushima area were highly contaminated with radiocesium (137Cs and 134Cs). Therefore, there is a need to develop strategies for remediation of the contaminated forests. We assessed changes in radioactive cesium (134Cs and 137Cs) contamination and nutrient status in composts derived from wood chip, bamboo leaf and bamboo powder using rice bran and wheat meal as sub-materials. Changes in soil properties and Komatsuna (Brassica rapa var. perviridis) growth were also investigated due the application of composts and initial materials at 0, 2.5, 5 and 10 kg·m−2 input levels. Mixing of sub-materials significantly reduced the concentration of radioactive Cs and improved compost quality. The effectiveness of three composts on soil quality improvement varied depending on their types and rates of applications. Amendments of bamboo leaf composts at 10 kg·m−2 resulted in the significantly highest soil inorganic N, available P and exchangeable K contents. Amendments of final composts also enhanced Komatsuna growth. Furthermore, radioactive Cs contaminations of the Komatsuna plants grown in these composts were below 0.1 Bq·kg−1. This study may help to remediate the forests contaminated with radiocesium in the Fukushima area while improving the soil organic matter content to enhance soil sustainability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Nuclear Power)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Nuclear Insurance Subsidies Cost from Post-Fukushima Accounting Based on Media Sources
Sustainability 2016, 8(12), 1301; doi:10.3390/su8121301
Received: 14 October 2016 / Revised: 5 December 2016 / Accepted: 8 December 2016 / Published: 12 December 2016
PDF Full-text (1144 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Quantification of nuclear liability insurance is difficult without arbitrary liability caps; however, post-mortem calculations can be used to calculate insurance costs. This study analyzes the Fukushima (Daiichi) nuclear power plant disaster to quantify the cost per unit electricity ($/kWh) of nuclear energy from
[...] Read more.
Quantification of nuclear liability insurance is difficult without arbitrary liability caps; however, post-mortem calculations can be used to calculate insurance costs. This study analyzes the Fukushima (Daiichi) nuclear power plant disaster to quantify the cost per unit electricity ($/kWh) of nuclear energy from the lifetime of the plant after accounting for the true cost of the liability needed to cover the damages from the nuclear disaster determined from news reports. These costs are then compared to the cost of electricity currently paid by Japanese consumers, and then are aggregated to determine the indirect subsidy for nuclear power providers in both Japan and the USA. The results show that the reported costs of the Fukushima nuclear disaster are $20–525 billion, which results in a real insurance cost from the lifetime of electricity produced at the plants between $0.22–5.78/kWh. These values are far higher than the current insurance costs by Japanese law of $0.01/kWh and even the total costs consumers pay for electricity. Although the spread in the input costs is large and the reported metrics are incomplete, the nuclear insurance subsidy is clearly substantial in Japan and in the USA. Ideally, energy sources should be economically sustainable without the need for a government insurance subsidy. For the electricity market to function effectively and efficiently in all other countries using nuclear power, the insurance costs should be reported accurately and included in nuclear electricity costs without arbitrary government liability caps. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Nuclear Power)
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