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Contesting the Future of Nuclear Power: A Critical Global Assessment of Atomic Energy Hardcover – May 5, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

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"Contesting the Future of Nuclear Power provides a badly needed, concise, and comprehensive overview of the reasons why nuclear energy is a deeply flawed policy option. The list of reasons is a long one: accidents, cost overruns, low return on investment, decommissioning costs, terrorism risks, uranium shortages, groundwater contamination, disposal risks, mining hazards, shipping security, centralized bureaucracy, etc. Moreover, for those who wish to portray nuclear energy as a 'green' energy option, Sovacool explodes the green myth by showing that carbon emissions over the life cycle of a nuclear-powered electricity plant are strikingly high, and the trend is for the carbon footprint of nuclear energy to become equivalent to that of electricity from fossil fuels." ---- David J Hess, Professor Science and Technology Studies Department, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

"The much-vaunted US nuclear renaissance isn't happening. Contesting the Future of Nuclear Power is a must-read book that explains why that's no surprise." -- Joseph Romm, Editor of ClimateProgress.org and former US Assistant Secretary of Energy

"The much-vaunted US nuclear renaissance isn't happening. Contesting the Future of Nuclear Power is a must-read book that explains why that's no surprise." ---- Joseph Romm, Editor of ClimateProgress.org and former US Assistant Secretary of Energy

About the Author

Dr Benjamin K Sovacool is currently an Assistant Professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore. His research interests include the barriers to alternative sources of energy supply such as renewable electricity generators and distributed generation, the politics of large-scale energy infrastructure, designing public policy to improve energy security, and building adaptive capacity and resilience to climate change in least developed Asian countries.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 308 pages
  • Publisher: World Scientific Publishing Company (May 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 981432275X
  • ISBN-13: 978-9814322751
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,187,536 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A. J. Sutter on November 22, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a very broad and fact-based survey of problems with nuclear power. It's extensively sourced, and its polemics are rational, rather than emotional, in tone. I didn't buy all the arguments made in it, but anyway that would have been overkill: there are enough good ones that unless you're a do-or-die nuke fan I think the odds are you'll find the book persuasive.

The author (BKS) details more than 20 different disadvantages of nuclear power, roughly broken down under the headings technical, economic, environmental and sociopolitical (the last bunch comprising mainly, but not exclusively, terrorism/security issues). After a chapter contrasting nukes with various forms of renewable energy, he concludes on the theme that governments like nukes because they symbolize a vision for the future -- and because they're handy disguises for bomb-making --, not because their benefits outweigh their costs when used as energy sources. Nice evidence of the latter is that despite huge incentives offered to encourage the use of nukes under the Energy Policy Acts of 1992 and 2005, not a single new nuclear plant has been built in the US in a quarter-century. Long lists of accidents (some caused by things like a cat creating a short circuit, or maintenance staff accidentally dropping a light bulb into a reactor), terrorist attacks and government subsidies were among the tables I found most interesting. There's a short epilogue about the March 2011 Fukushima accident, but since he finished writing as of May 2011, BKS couldn't yet know the whole rotten truth.

Just so you can calibrate where I'm coming from: I wasn't anti-nuke before the Fukushima meltdown -- or even for a few weeks after it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ronald W. Garrison on October 25, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In the process of researching current issues in nuclear power, I found Sovacool's treatment of the subject well worth the very substantial price of a hard-cover copy. There is plenty of detail for here for proponents and opponents of nuclear power to kick around in a serious debate, though I think very few will give it the scrutiny it deserves.

Sovacool makes some persuasive points here. One I found convincing is that, whereas nuclear proponents will tell you that the quantity of fuel needed for nuclear plants is vastly, incomparably smaller than the coal needed to make a similar amount of electricity, in fact, if you consider the amount of tailings left behind in uranium mining, the difference is not nearly so dramatic. Likewise, on the back end, by the time you factor in the waste created in handling nuclear waste, the large quantities of shielding needed to build the plant, the amount of water needed to cool the plant, the disposal of plant materials of decommissioning, and so on, nuclear no longer looks like such a neat and tidy solution. (In fairness, though, he should point out that the tailings don't require the expense of precisely machining them into rods and trucking them to the power plant, as the much smaller amount of fuel does.)

Obviously, in general a lot of care was taken in creating this lengthy treatment of the subject. Still, I can't help pointing out some places where I truly cringed:

p 154 (and Table 5, p 159): "...with lower-grade uranium ore, the emissions profile [for CO2]...almost doubles.
---I don't see that at all. The quality of ore presumably only affects the first step (mining and milling), and possibly the last (land reclamation of uranium mine). These entries come nowhere near to doubling the figures.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Tony Smyth on May 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Interesting that both reviewers so far live in Tokyo. For us, this is personal!
This book shows clearly and methodically that, when all costs, from mining, enrichment, transport,security,costs of building nuclear power stations, CO2 emmisions during building, costs of decommisioning the plants, costs of storage (if a secure site to store said waste could be found), AND if all subsidies to nuclear were removed, nuclear is a very expensive, dangerous and non cost-competitive source of energy. Sovacool's book is solid, well-written, well-researched and convincing.This is book you should read a few times, then pass it on to friends and family. This is one of those rare books I give highest recommendations to.
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Contesting the Future of Nuclear Power: A Critical Global Assessment of Atomic Energy
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