Environmental Modeling & Assessment

, Volume 16, Issue 5, pp 431–440 | Cite as

Nuclear Versus Coal plus CCS: a Comparison of Two Competitive Base-Load Climate Control Options

  • Massimo Tavoni
  • Bob van der Zwaan


In this paper, we analyze the relative importance and mutual behavior of two competing base-load electricity generation options that each are capable of contributing significantly to the abatement of global CO2 emissions: nuclear energy and coal-based power production complemented with CO2 capture and storage (CCS). We also investigate how, in scenarios developed with an integrated assessment model that simulates the economics of a climate-constrained world, the prospects for nuclear energy would change if exogenous limitations on the spread of nuclear technology were relaxed. Using the climate change economics model World Induced Technical Change Hybrid, we find that until 2050 the growth rates of nuclear electricity generation capacity would become comparable to historical rates observed during the 1980s. Given that nuclear energy continues to face serious challenges and contention, we inspect how extensive the improvements of coal-based power equipped with CCS technology would need to be if our economic optimization model is to significantly scale down the construction of new nuclear power plants.


Economic competition Electricity sector Nuclear power Coal power CCS Renewables Climate policy 

JEL Classification

D8 D9 H0 O3 O4 Q4 Q5 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM)MilanItaly
  2. 2.Centro Euro-Mediterraneo per i Cambiamenti Climatici (CMCC)LecceItaly
  3. 3.Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN)AmsterdamThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Lenfest Center for Sustainable EnergyColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

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