Meeting the growing demand for energy, and electricity in particular, while addressing the need to curb greenhouse gas emissions and to ensure security of energy supply, is one of the most difficult challenges facing the world’s economies. No single technology can respond to this challenge, and the solution which policy-makers are seeking lies in the diversification of energy sources.
Although nuclear energy currently provides over 20% of electricity in the OECD area and does not emit any carbon dioxide during production, it continues to be seen by many as a controversial technology. Public concern remains over its safety and the management of radioactive waste, and financing such a capital-intensive technology is a complex issue. The role that nuclear power will play in the future depends on the answers to these questions, several of which are provided in this up-to-date review of the status of nuclear energy, as well as on the outcome of research and development on the nuclear fuel cycle and reactor technologies.