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In these early speculations, there was an awareness of the potential of atomic energy for both military and peaceful applications, and the latter loomed large in the thinking of some scientists. For example, in a document dated July 1934, Szilard explained planned experiments that, if successful, would lead to power production. on such a large scale and probably with so little cost that a sort of industrial revolution could be expected; it appears doubtful for instance whether coal mining or oil production could survive after a couple of years.
170]. ” This is primarily solar energy, in all its forms. He concluded that the world could not expect to obtain “more than 7 to 15 percent of the maximum plausible demands for energy from ‘income’ sources at costs no greater than 2 times present costs” [22, p. 204]. , nuclear energy. With breeder reactors, he indicated that world uranium supplies would suﬃce for “many centuries” [22, p. 250]. However, he pointed out that nuclear energy could only make a decisive contribution if transportation and home heating were electriﬁed to a much greater extent than was the case in the early 1950s.
The potential for increased domestic supplies is limited, and the most promising avenue is reduced consumption. Nuclear power could make only limited additional contributions here, at least in the short run. The use of oil for electricity generation has been greatly reduced since the 1970s and its use in the residential and commercial sectors is also reduced. S. 12]. 2 Problems with Fossil Fuels 11 be replaced by natural gas or electric power. A further gain would come if gas and electricity partially replaced petroleum in industry.