A Social License for Nuclear Technologies

  • Seth HoedlEmail author


Nuclear energy technologies have the potential to help mitigate climate change. However, these technologies face many challenges, including high costs, societal concern and opposition, and health, safety, environmental and proliferation risks. Many companies and academic research groups are pursuing advanced designs, both fission and fusion-based, to address both costs and these risks. This chapter complements these efforts by analyzing how nuclear technologies can address societal concerns through the acquisition of a social license, a nebulous concept that represents ‘society’s consent’ and that has been used to facilitate and improve a wide range of publically and privately funded projects and activities subject to a range of regulatory oversight, including large industrial facilities, controversial genetic engineering research, and environmental management. Suggestions for public engagement and consent-based siting, two aspects of a social license, have been made before. The chapter modernizes these suggestions by briefly reviewing the social license and engagement literature. It discusses, in the context of how to acquire a social license, the role of government regulation, the role of project proponents and government actors, and the role of four key principles, including engendering trust, transparency, meaningful public engagement, and protection of health, safety and the environment. Further, the chapter uses the social license concept to explain why some nuclear waste repositories have succeeded while others languish, and it provides concrete recommendations for the deployment of new nuclear waste repositories and advanced power plants, both fission and fusion-based.


Social License Nuclear Waste Nuclear Power Fission Fusion 


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Copyright information

© T.M.C. Asser press and the authors 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.EmeryvilleUSA

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