In the 21st century the world faces the new challenge of drastically reducing emissions of greenhouse gases while simultaneously expanding access to energy and economic opportunity for billions of people. In a recent MIT study we have examined this challenge in the electricity sector, which has been widely identified as an early candidate for deep decarbonization. In most regions, serving projected electricity load in 2050 while simultaneously reducing greenhouse gas emissions will require a mix of electrical generation assets that is different from the current system. While a variety of low- or zero-carbon technologies can be employed in various combinations, our analysis shows that excluding nuclear energy as an option may significantly increase the cost of achieving deep decarbonization targets. The least-cost portfolios in our analysis include an important share for nuclear, and the magnitude of this share grows substantially as the cost of nuclear energy drops. Despite this promise, prospects for the expansion of nuclear energy remain decidedly dim in many parts of the world. We have examined what is needed to reverse that trend; the salient findings from our analyses will be presented in this talk.
Jacopo Buongiorno is the TEPCO Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and the Director of Science and Technology of the MIT Nuclear Reactor Laboratory. He teaches a variety of undergraduate and graduate courses in thermo-fluids engineering and nuclear reactor engineering. Jacopo has published 90 journal articles in the areas of reactor safety and design, two-phase flow and heat transfer, and nanofluid technology. For his research work and his teaching at MIT he won several awards, among which the ANS Outstanding Teacher Award (2019), the MIT MacVicar Faculty Fellowship (2014), the ANS Landis Young Member Engineering Achievement Award (2011), the ASME Heat Transfer Best Paper Award (2008), and the ANS Mark Mills Award (2001). Jacopo is the Director of the Center for Advanced Nuclear Energy Systems (CANES). In 2016-2018 he led the MIT study on the Future of Nuclear Energy in a Carbon-Constrained World. Jacopo is a consultant for the nuclear industry in the area of reactor thermal-hydraulics, and a member of the Accrediting Board of the National Academy of Nuclear Training. He is a Fellow of the American Nuclear Society (including service on its Special Committee on Fukushima in 2011-2012), a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, a participant in the Defense Science Study Group (2014-2015) and in the Naval Studies Board (2016-2019).
Free and open to all.