Sunday, December 10, 2023

Public opinion is the missing ingredient in decarbonizing models, say researchers

Researchers have shown that sustainably decarbonizing the U.S. energy system by 2050 will require us to change the way energy transitions are modelled and account for the role of public opinion, reports Tech Xplore. Carnegie Mellon University researchers used nuclear energy as a case study of how conventional energy models – which minimize system costs – fail at accounting for social acceptance, a factor that can inhibit the deployment of certain technologies such as nuclear energy. They combined an energy system and risk perception model to evaluate cost, electricity demand, environmental performance, and perceived versus acceptable risk at nuclear power plants. Their results indicated that the share of total U.S. energy supplied by nuclear sources would fall from a majority of system generation in a least-cost model, to just three per cent in a scenario that incorporates deep decarbonization goals, accident risk perception, and public acceptance.

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