Policy ForumNuclear Energy

China-U.S. cooperation to advance nuclear power

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Science  05 Aug 2016:
Vol. 353, Issue 6299, pp. 547-548
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf7131

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With China having the largest fossil fuel CO2 emissions today and the United States being higher in per capita emissions (see related energy consumption in the first figure), these countries have a strong mutual interest in stabilizing climate and reducing air pollution. Yet even Germany, despite sizable subsidies of renewable energies, gets only a small fraction of energy from them (see the first figure). Historically the fastest growth of low-carbon power occurred during scale-up of national nuclear power programs (see the second figure). Some studies project that a doubling to quadrupling of nuclear energy output is required in the next few decades, along with a large expansion of renewable energy, in order to achieve deep cuts in fossil fuel use while meeting the growing global demand for affordable, reliable energy (14). In light of this large-scale energy and emissions picture, climate and nuclear energy experts from China and the United States convened (see Acknowledgments) to consider the potential of increased cooperation in developing advanced nuclear technologies.