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Silver Buckshot or Bullet: Is a Future “Energy Mix” Necessary?

Barry W. Brook (), Tom Blees (), Tom M. L. Wigley () and Sanghyun Hong ()
Additional contact information
Barry W. Brook: Faculty of Science, Engineering & Technology, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 55, Hobart 7001, Australia
Tom Blees: Science Council for Global Initiatives, North Fort Myers, FL 33903, USA
Tom M. L. Wigley: National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO 80307, USA
Sanghyun Hong: Faculty of Science, Engineering & Technology, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 55, Hobart 7001, Australia

Sustainability, 2018, vol. 10, issue 2, 1-14

Abstract: To displace fossil fuels and achieve the global greenhouse-gas emissions reductions required to meet the Paris Agreement on climate change, the prevalent argument is that a mix of different low-carbon energy sources will need to be deployed. Here we seek to challenge that viewpoint. We argue that a completely decarbonized, energy-rich and sustainable future could be achieved with a dominant deployment of next-generation nuclear fission and associated technologies for synthesizing liquid fuels and recycling waste. By contrast, non-dispatchable energy sources like wind and solar energy are arguably superfluous, other than for niche applications, and run the risk of diverting resources away from viable and holistic solutions. For instance, the pairing of variable renewables with natural-gas backup fails to address many of the entrenched problems we seek to solve. Our conclusion is that, given the urgent time frame and massive extent of the energy-replacement challenge, half-measures that distract from or stymie effective policy and infrastructure investment should be avoided.

Keywords: nuclear fission; natural gas; renewable energy; climate change; energy mix (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: Q Q0 Q2 Q3 Q5 Q56 O13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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