Throw in rising fossil fuel prices and renewed concerns about climate change, and nuclear power seems poised to make a comeback. Or is it?
The process of enriching uranium to turn it into fuel for nuclear power plants can also be used to create nuclear weapons, so Iran’s progress in reprocessing is alarming. Can others do the same?
Commercial accidents such as Three Mile Island in 1979, Chernobyl in 1986 and Fukushima in 2011 have shaken public opinion. However, compared to the day-to-day health and climate hazards associated with burning coal, the nuclear industry’s past safety record may seem like a reasonable compromise, as modular reactors have proven to be effective.
Solar, wind, and other sustainable energy sources are becoming an increasingly important part of the picture every day, but skeptics say more baseload generation is required to supplement them.
“These modern nuclear reactors and the existing fleet are safe,” Granholm said in Glasgow. “The holy grail is to determine the net base load power. … Nuclear power is controllable, clean base load power, so we want to have more options. ”
Cost is what could hinder the return of nuclear energy. Industry must demonstrate that it can deliver projects on budget and on time. Some predict that an increase in the number of competitive nuclear power launches could hinder the standardization of safety and manufacturing standards, thereby slowing down the regulatory process.