Both nuclear power and renewable sources of energy must be included in the world's energy supply portfolio if we are to seriously tackle global warming, Professor of Nuclear Engineering Michael Golay told some 50 scientists, policy-makers and others attending a recent international symposium at MIT on nuclear energy.
Professor Golay said the world is only just beginning to address global warming. A true commitment, he said, will be accompanied by other signs such as "the transformation of environmental protection from a socially oriented popular political movement to a large-scale industrial and governmental activity." In addition, developed countries will create technologies and incentives to lower emissions in developing countries.
He added that it will also be necessary to impose "heavy restrictions and taxes on fossil fuel use." That's because he doesn't think the world will be able to produce non-emitting energy technologies that are economically superior to fossil fuels. "Fossil fuels are abundant and inexpensive, and they will [still] be [abundant and inexpensive] on the day when everyone in this room dies," he said.
Professor Golay's comments were part of a session on nuclear energy and the environment at the April 19-20 International Symposium on the Role of Nuclear Energy in a Sustainable Environment. Other sessions focused on nuclear energy in a deregulated market, advanced nuclear energy options, and rethinking the nuclear fuel cycle.
The symposium was sponsored by the Center for Advanced Nuclear Energy Systems (CANES). Directed by Professor Mujid S. Kazimi, the TEPCO Professor of Nuclear Engineering, CANES was created last year to coordinate and expand MIT activities in examining new technology options for future nuclear energy plants and fuel facilities. It also addresses the best approaches to managing and regulating such facilities.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on May 2, 2001.