Even with these challenges, some still believe climate change policy will soon make nuclear power more competitive. James Rogers, CEO of Duke Energy, said in a 2007 CFR symposium that when the life cycle cost of nuclear is accounted for, nuclear power "is still the best way to produce electricity with zero greenhouse gases from the actual operation"—even compared with energy sources such as wind. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated in May 2008 that a carbon price of between $20 and $45 per ton, which many projections say is feasible, would make nuclear competitive with coal.
But other experts point to a climate change policy model (PDF) that indicates at least 700 gigawatts in additional capacity would be needed for nuclear power to make any measureable additional contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. That could amount to over one thousand new reactors in the next forty years if the majority of reactors currently online need to be replaced.
Some experts believe that while daunting, it is possible to achieve that level of building even with the current lack of construction capacity. Ray Ganther of the French nuclear company Areva said in 2007 the industry managed to start building 150 nuclear reactors within a decade of inception. A 2007 report written by a number of nuclear experts concludes that to reach 700 gigawatts the industry would need to return to nuclear power's "most rapid period of growth" and sustain this rate of growth for the next fifty years (PDF).
Moments in NRC History: Research and Test Reactors Series
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