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Cover Story
 
MAURO GUILLEN PROFESSOR, THE WHARTON SCHOOL
“A 100% Safe Facility is Impossible”
Gullen Argues that in The Longer Term, we have to go Beyond Nuclear
Issue Date - 23/06/2011
 
B&E: Do you think India is ready for nuclear proliferation for civilian use?
MG: India will need a lot of energy. It is investing in renewables (wind in particular) and it seems nuclear may have to play a role. Since Fukushima, however, the world has turned relatively wary of nuclear energy.

B&E: Are countries pursuing nuclear proliferation ready to face a Chernobyl kind of disaster? What possibilities are there that can ensure civilian safety in case of a nuclear leak?
MG: It is impossible to design a 100% safe industrial facility. Within nuclear power, there are many designs being used. The French, in spite of generating 70% of their power with nuclear, have not had a serious accident. Technology cannot answer all questions and address all eventualities, but it seems that good design can make a difference.

B&E: Do you see a growing need for the world to move towards a prohibitive nuclear and a proliferating solar energy model?
MG: I think all energy sources and technologies need to be pursued. We cannot ignore any one of them. We need more research. I think even coal has a future, as long as we find a way to burn it without releasing gases that warm up the world.

B&E: Is it still costly and uncommon to implement solar power projects in developing economies?
MG: Solar power is not yet competitive anywhere, and it is years, perhaps decades, away from being so.

B&E: Depending on the investment and its return, how do you think solar energy will be able to compete with nuclear?
MG: It will be hard, unless there is a real breakthrough.

B&E: So the challenges that both these technologies face towards becoming major sources of energy in the near future relate to...
MG: It’s a matter of cost, in the long run.

B&E: But what is the best feasible direction for emerging economies to undertake: Solar or Nuclear?
MG: In the short run nuclear, but they should also invest in wind, biomass, solar and clean coal.

 

Amir Moin           

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