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Deep Decarbonization and Nuclear Energy

March 2018

Citation: 48 ELR 10244

Issue: 3

Author: David A. Repka and Tyson R. Smith

The Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project (DDPP) projects a doubling of U.S. demand for electricity by 2050, even accounting for increased energy efficiency and conservation. In two DDPP scenarios, this demand would be met by significant increases in nuclear, wind, and solar energy by 2050. The High Nuclear Scenario involves more than 400 gigawatts of nuclear, four times current capacity. The Mixed Scenario involves approximately 200 gigawatts of nuclear, or two times current capacity. A sustained national commitment to nuclear energy would be necessary to meet the DDPP goals for either scenario. Advanced technologies exist or are under development that could support a significant, rapid expansion of nuclear energy capacity, but under current conditions, those technologies are not likely to be deployed at the scale required. This Article, excerpted from Michael B. Gerrard & John C. Dernbach, eds., Legal Pathways to Deep Decarbonization in the United States (forthcoming in 2018 from ELI Press), highlights various factors that impact nuclear energy, and proposes legal, regulatory, and policy changes to reduce barriers and promote increased use of nuclear generation.

David A. Repka is a retired partner, and Tyson R. Smith is a partner, with Winston & Strawn LLP.

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