The Nuclear Option: A Multi-Level Perspective Exploration of Nuclear Energy and its Implications for the Development of Renewable Energy Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_projects/gf06g453g

2016

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  • Nuclear energy enjoyed widespread support in the United States during its initial decades and has seen extensive study as a potential means of combating contemporary energy issues such as climate change and alternative transportation fuels. Despite the potential contribution to solving these challenges, the industry has been largely stagnant since the 1970s. Common policy interpretations for this decline focus on stricter regulations brought about by the environmentalist movement that emerged from the 1960s and public safety concerns following incidents at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima. This study explores an alternate explanation using an adaptation of the Multi-Level Perspective to demonstrate that the macro-level landscape plays a critical role in transitioning energy technologies from developmental niches into the socio-technical regime. Given the constrained nature of the current electricity market in the United States, government support for clean energy technologies may be warranted to help them achieve stable commercialization, similar to the support government historically provided for fossil fuels and nuclear. Diversity in the development of energy resources will be critical to balance the risks, costs, and limitations of any one technology and avoid lock-in. This means there is a role for a variety of energy resources in the portfolio of potential solutions. Technology transitions take decades to occur, and while policy actors have their preferences, moving to a single source of electricity is both unrealistic and infeasible for a host of economic and technical reasons.
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