In a world with an increasingly unstable climate and more extreme weather phenomena, nuclear power plants are, as the tenth anniversary of the Fukushima accident on March 11 reminded us, a reckless option. Germany became the first major economy to commit to retiring its nuclear power plants by 2022, but China also seems to be losing interest in the technology due to cost and safety concerns, while nuclear power is relegated to a token role in the US energy map. Large reactors cannot compete with low renewable energy prices. Many of them have already closed, and furthermore, due to their high cost, complexity and difficulties, it seems very unlikely that any new large plants will be built in the coming decades. Nuclear power has turned out to be a promise that never materializes, and looks increasingly remote as an answer to the climate emergency. Some point to small modular reactors (SMRs) as the only option that could be implemented on a significant scale in the climate-critical period of the next few decades, but quite a few analyses suggest this is extremely unlikely to happen. The option that seemed the most obvious can easily be sidelined as new technologies develop and undergo their own economies of scale. Nuclear power, which still generates around 10% of the world’s total energy, is now seen as too slow, too expensive and too dangerous, something no one wants to see being built near their home or town. Regardless of what the nuclear industry itself wants, the signs are that renewables may be defining themselves not only as the cheapest, but also as the only meaningful energy proposal for the future.
Forbes 30th June 2021 read more »