Nuclear Energy


Meeting the world's demand for electricity over the next several decades while simultaneously reducing greenhouse gas emissions requires a significant focus on power generation that is both emissions-free and capable of providing power at the terawatt scale by mid-century. Expanded use of nuclear power is an obvious option for satisfying these criteria.

Currently, nuclear power plants provide 7 percent of the world's commercial energy and more than 15 percent of its electricity. A variety of barriers must be overcome, however, if we are to realize the potential of nuclear power to produce vast amounts of carbon-free electricity. These barriers include reducing the cost of building and operating safe nuclear plants, managing and disposing of high-level radioactive waste, reducing proliferation risks and improving public acceptance.

Roadblocks to nuclear power are substantial but also present research opportunities in areas such as new plant design, plant life extension, modular and proliferation-resistant reactors and novel approaches to nuclear waste such as deep borehole disposal. However, research and technology development alone are not sufficient to enable large-scale deployment of incremental nuclear power. Significant and coordinated technically informed policy analysis to address nuclear waste management, nuclear proliferation concerns and public resistance to nuclear power is a prerequisite to realizing its potential to meet growing energy demand and mitigate climate change.

News

Could next-gen reactors spark revival in nuclear power?

Could next-gen reactors spark revival in nuclear power?

Tech titans like Bill Gates are helping fund a new generation of commercial nuclear reactors, some likely in China, as a solution to climate change

July 27, 2015Read more
Innovation sputters in battle against climate change

Innovation sputters in battle against climate change

Reporter Eduardo Porter cites the MIT Future of Solar Energy study in his call for fresh ideas

July 22, 2015Read more
The environmentalist case against 100% renewable energy plans

The environmentalist case against 100% renewable energy plans

It might be technically feasible, but that doesn't mean it's the best plan to pursue

July 21, 2015Read more
An eccentric MIT professor was the unlikely MVP of the Iran deal

An eccentric MIT professor was the unlikely MVP of the Iran deal

Current U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz provided critical scientific insight to the policy negotiations

July 21, 2015Read more

Videos

A new generation works to fulfill the promise of nuclear energy

A new generation works to fulfill the promise of nuclear energy

Sara Ferry, PhD candidate, MIT Nuclear Science & Engineering (NSE)

April 12, 2012

02:01 Read more
Innovation Waves Towards Energy Security

Innovation Waves Towards Energy Security

Richard K. Lester, MIT Nuclear Science and Engineering

April 11, 2012

06:45 Read more
The U.S. Energy Crisis and the Role of New Nuclear Plants

The U.S. Energy Crisis and the Role of New Nuclear Plants

Thomas A. Christopher

November 5, 2007

1:31:27 Read more
The Future of Nuclear Power

The Future of Nuclear Power

Richard Meserve, President, Carnegie Institution for Science

February 19, 2013

1:08:26 Read more