The Palgrave Handbook of the International Political Economy of Energy

Part of the series Palgrave Handbooks in IPE pp 363-396


Second Life or Half-Life? The Contested Future of Nuclear Power and Its Potential Role in a Sustainable Energy Transition

  • M. V. RamanaAffiliated withProgram on Science and Global Security, Princeton University


This chapter addresses the question of whether nuclear power can be a part of a sustainable energy transition by examining the present state and future prospects of nuclear energy. Currently nuclear power constitutes only a small and declining share of global electricity. This is a result of the dual challenges of high economic costs of nuclear power and negative public attitudes toward it. The chapter then describes some of the strategies adopted by the nuclear industry and its supporters to maintain and expand nuclear power in the face of this reality, including actively courting developing countries, offering new reactor designs, and extensive use of propaganda. It concludes that despite this contestation, nuclear power does not fit well into a world based on sustainable energy.