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Nuclear and financial meltdowns; The impact of the Fukushima accident on the transition to a low-carbon economy

Alessandro Vercelli
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Alessandro Vercelli: DEPS University of Siena

Working papers from Financialisation, Economy, Society & Sustainable Development (FESSUD) Project

Abstract: The paper is articulated in two parts. In the first part the consequences of the Fukushima incident are briefly described and analyzed offering a post-Fukushima reassessment of the advantages and disadvantages of nuclear power generation as compared to those of alternative energy sources. In the second part of the paper the intrinsic structural instability of the process of nuclear power generation is analyzed by comparing it with that of financial processes and showing that a thorough understanding of their critical dynamic nature puts serious constraints on their controllability. The Fukushima accident made evident, and further worsened, the shortcomings of the existing energy system based on fossil sources. A crucial consequence was that it reduced significantly the current and prospective contributions of nuclear energy to the global supply of energy aggravating for a foreseeable future a trend characterized by structural excess demand of energy. A persistent increase in the price of nuclear energy and, more in general, in the trend of energy prices may frustrate any attempt to resume a sustained rate of growth within the business-as-usual paradigm. This calls for a more rapid transition towards a low carbon economy.

Keywords: Fukushima accident; nuclear power generation; critical systems; structural instability; financial crisis; climate change policy; carbon prices; low-carbon economy (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: B41 G01 Q01 Q28 Q38 Q42 Q43 Q48 Q54 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 42 pages
Date: 2014-12-15
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-ene and nep-env
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