Nuclear Energy Risks and Benefits in Perspective

Policy makers need a comprehensive assessment of electricity generation options covering its risks and benefits from economic, social and environmental viewpoints. A large number of studies have been carried out by international organisations and national institutes on the external costs of alternative energy supply options as well as on their accident risks and their broad economic impacts. At the national level, the environmental impact assessments (EIA) of nuclear and other energy projects provide a relevant framework for analysis and interesting country-specific results. However, holistic analyses encompassing all aspects of the nuclear option that could be used for comparative assessment against alternatives have not been released recently in an international framework.

The overall objective of this project was to provide policy makers with authoritative information on qualitative (and quantitative whenever feasible) aspects of the benefits and risks of nuclear energy covering its economic, social and environmental aspects. The main goals of the study were to measure the risks and benefits of nuclear energy, including:

The scope of the study was to cover all aspects of nuclear energy relevant for policy making and focus on ongoing research related to nuclear electricity generation in OECD member countries. Emphasis was placed on data obtained through feedback from experience complemented by results from laboratory tests or modelling exercises. Published studies and results from work on risks and benefits of alternative energy sources or other industrial activities were integrated in the study as a means to put nuclear energy in perspective.

The Secretariat conducted a thorough literature survey to be summarised in a white paper that served as a background document for the discussions of an ad-hoc expert group. These discussions aimed to:

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Last updated: 6 May 2014