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WIREs Energy Environ.
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Nuclear and renewables: compatible or contradicting?

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Abstract Since the report of Club of Rome, ‘The Limits to Growth’, the exhaustion of fossil energy sources has been under discussion. Coal, oil, and gas—and energy technologies relying upon them—will be exhausted in the future. High expectations for nuclear energy have given way to the insight that nuclear fission is at best a bridging technology. The risks of this technology became apparent by nuclear catastrophes such as Chernobyl and Fukushima, and uranium resources are limited. Furthermore, fast breeder technology has failed and fourth generation reactors are still pure fiction. Before the industrial revolution, nearly all energy demands were supplied by renewable energy worldwide. From the beginning of the nineteenth century, fossil fuel was used in a steadily increasing amount for heating, lighting, transport, and other energy purposes. Electricity as scientific form of energy played an important role in the transformation of agricultural to industrial societies. Electricity systems are the basic infrastructure of modern societies, influencing the industrial organization, the degree of automation, the communication system, and the industrial future. Today the electrical power industry is at a crossroads, last but not least for environmental reasons. Beside the large cathedrals of electricity generation, other types of generation technologies, each of which brings totally different social relations between energy producers and consumers, have a historical chance to emerge. The solar age will replace the fossil and the nuclear age sooner or later. This transformation is not only a technical and economic, but also a social and political problem. This article is categorized under: Energy Systems Economics > Economics and Policy Energy and Climate > Economics and Policy Energy and Development > Economics and Policy
Nuclear reactors and net operating capacity in the world since 1954.
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