How technological lock-in has shaped our nuclear power options

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  • 2011•04•03     Maastricht

    After an earthquake and tsunami crippled the light-water nuclear power reactors in Fukushima, Japan on 11 March, analysts have scrutinized design choices and risk management in the nuclear industry.

    Last month, UNU-MERIT Professor Robin Cowan was cited in the Boston Globe and Atlantic magazine for his 1990  paper “Nuclear Power Reactors: A Study in Technological Lock-in” in The Journal of Economic History. That paper explored how US technology — dating back to the 1940s — came to dominate the nuclear market thanks to a blend of economic and political expediency and regulatory barriers.

    In the attached podcast, UNU-MERIT editor Howard Hudson speaks with Prof. Cowan about the phenomenon of technological lock-in, particularly within the nuclear power industry, and its relevance to the nuclear crisis in Japan.

    Podcast: Japan nuclear crisis: A fatal “technological lock-in”?