The future development and acceptance of light water reactors in the U.S.
Author(s)Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Light Water Reactor Study Group
This report summarizes a two-year effort by the M.I.T. Light Water Reactor Study Group to assess the institutional, regulatory, technical, and economic factors influencing the development and deployment of LWR technology. The nuclear industry is confronted by a mix of problems which, if not addressed, may soon eliminate LWRs as a practical source of electric energy. The Study Group found that technical developments could improve nuclear plant capacity factors by 10 percent; furthermore, substantial economic benefits are possible through better use of existing technology, further technological improvements, and various financing schemes. However, the most pronounced problems are institutional and social, not technical and economic. Regulatory and institutional problems in licensing, constructing, and operating nuclear plants have created such uncertainty in the electric utility sector that the economic and environmental advantages of LWRs are seriously jeopardized. Regulatory constraints, unpredictability of government policy, unnecessary construction delays, and the resultant difficulty in obtaining the large-scale financing needed for new plant construction all discourage the electric utility sector from making long-term commitments to nuclear power. In the absence of a concerted government attempt to resolve these and other problems, public mistrust and legal intervention in the nuclear industry grow increasingly serious. Thus, the technical and economic improvements that could benefit the industry will be negated unless the government, the industrial sector, the electric utilities, and the public address the regulatory and institutional problems that are threatening to cripple the industry.
MIT Energy Laboratory
Nuclear power plants |z United States.
The following license files are associated with this item: