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17th Pacific Basin Nuclear Conference
Cancun, 2010

Nuclear Energy Challenges in this Century

The past fifty years have witnessed the advent of a new energy source and the beginning of yet another in the series of energy-use transitions that have marked our history since the start of our technological development. Each of these transitions has been accompanied by adaptive challenges. Each unique set of challenges has been met. Today the world faces the need for another transition. This paper outlines some of the associated challenges that lie ahead of us all, as we adapt to this new and exciting environment. The first step in defining the challenges ahead is to make some form of prediction of the future energy supply and demand during the period. Herein, the future up to 2010 is presumed to include two major events -- first, a decline in the availability and a rise in price of petroleum, and second a need to reduce greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. Both of these events are taken to be imminent. Added to these expected events is the assumption that the total of wind, solar, and other such energy sources will be able to contribute, but only in a relatively small way, to the provision of needed energy to our ever-expanding human population.

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