. "10 U.S. Energy Policy in the Global Economic Context." Energy in Transition, 1985-2010: Final Report of the Committee on Nuclear and Alternative Energy Systems. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 1980.
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Energy in Transition, 1985-2010: Final Report of the Committee on Nuclear and Alternative Energy Systems
including international surveillance of reprocessing operations) could be cheaper and more effective, and must be explored.
Abandonment or postponement of the breeder reactor is likely to have effects similar to the avoidance of reprocessing, raising the price of uranium and thus strengthening the interest of other countries in the development of breeders or advanced converter reactors. Under some plausible circumstances, the United States could remain a uranium exporter through the end of this century. Hence, a major delay in the U.S. breeder program, rather than setting an example to others, may accelerate breeder development elsewhere, if only because it would leave less U.S. uranium available for export (or increase U.S. demand for uranium imports). In any case, European work on breeders may be too far along, and too strongly supported by energy projections, to be stopped, despite growing political opposition to nuclear power in many European countries and Japan. To the extent that public distrust of nuclear power in the industrial countries slows its growth, the pressure on uranium supplies will decrease and the above-mentioned problems will be postponed, although the problems of the international oil market will intensify.
A slowdown in the growth of U.S. GNP would help keep down our energy demand and be similar in that respect to the accelerated conservation discussed earlier. However, it would also reduce our demand for nonenergy imports and thus make it more difficult for other countries, especially poor ones, to finance their energy imports. Moreover, slower economic growth, while possibly beneficial from an environmental point of view, would make it more difficult to restore and maintain full employment. Since it would adversely affect investment, it would also retard the turnover of capital stock and thus make it harder to improve energy efficiency.
THE DEVELOPING COUNTRIES AND THE WORLD FINANCIAL SYSTEM
As we have seen, the growing demand for energy in the developing countries will make them increasingly important in the global energy picture. Some of these countries are already considerable importers of oil, and others will become so as their transportation sectors expand. Moreover, the industrialization that is an inescapable aspect of economic development will greatly increase their reliance on electric power, of which they now have very little. (See Table 10–2.) Their agriculture will also shift from animal and human energy to tractors, harvesters, and trucks, and from natural to industrial fertilizers. As personal incomes rise in these countries, they will want better housing with more lighting and appliances,