Nuclear energy is essential to meet growing global energy demand without destroying the climate. Existing nuclear designs should be used as bridge technologies. But new reactor designs must also be developed, because they will be able to produce vast quantities of low-carbon energy while avoiding the drawbacks of conventional nuclear power – and also cleaning up its legacy.
An advanced nuclear future offers near zero-carbon energy, safer reactors, a clean up of the legacy of past nuclear activities, a greatly reduced risk of weapons proliferation and plentiful energy for all. No advanced nuclear reactor has yet operated at commercial scale, so the costs are uncertain. However, due to the promising simplicity of the designs, advanced reactors may well be cheaper than conventional nuclear reactors. They may even be cheaper than fossil fuels – even without a price on carbon.