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The history of mankind is that of its ascent to unprecedented levels of comfort, productivity, and consumption—enabled by the increased mastery of the basic stocks and flows of energy. Intensive use of electricity in particular has enabled the 3rd and 4th industrial revolutions, the latter is on-going with the progressive fusion of the natural and digital worlds. Such innovations drive and are supported by a global urbanization trend, leading to futuristic mega-cities. And while about 20% of the global population are at the forefront of this development, the remaining 80% wish to attain the same standard. This requires a massive growth in the overall supply of electricity, in particular in concentrated form to power mega-cities and e-mobility.
This miraculous trajectory is confronted by the consensus that anthropogenic CO2 emissions must decrease, requiring de-carbonization of the energy system, and more generally a decoupling of economic growth and development from CO2 emission and departure from unsustainable practices. Modern renewables are often proposed as the way forward. Nuclear power, on the other hand, is by far the densest available form of energy and, unlike intermittent renewables, it has proven to be continuously available. But, it has been left out of many energy scenarios and strategies. There are serious concerns about whether sources like wind and solar alone will be sufficient to power expansion of human populations and prosperity. The mature field of sustainability analysis provides a rigorous systematic way to balance the pros and cons of the existing energy technologies, via lifecycle assessments and weighting criteria covering the environment, society, and economy. In such a framework, nuclear power is ranked favorably but, as a strong emphasis is often put on husbandry of radioactive wastes and dread of radiations, renewables are usually top-ranked by politicians and the general public.
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- Strategic Aspects of Energy
- Chapter 1
Systemische Notwendigkeit zur Weiterentwicklung von Hybridnetzen