Nuclear Power Opportunities Move East
From Oil Price
A birds-eye look at the nuclear power industry in 2013 reveals a depressing picture. Early in the 2000s, thanks to a combination of rising fossil fuel prices and a lack of confidence in the return on renewable alternatives, nuclear power re-emerged as the potential silver bullet to reduce carbon emissions and promote energy independence. In the West, the Labour government in Britain approved 10 sites for nuclear power stations in 2009 with some of them coming online as early as 2018.
A year later Obama made up to $8 billion in federal loan guarantees available to build the first American nuclear power plants for over 30 years. Nuclear power was flourishing on the European continent as well. In 2011 14 of the 15 countries with the largest share of nuclear power as a percentage of total energy production were in Europe, with perennial ‘nuclear poster boy’ France producing 75 percent of their total energy from nuclear sources. However, as the decade has dragged on, the rosy prospects for the industry have begun to look increasingly bleak. Two reasons emerge.
Firstly, the Fukushima disaster revived old fears about nuclear power at almost precisely the worst time. The fact that the circumstances surrounding the disaster were utterly unparalleled (few nuclear power plants are hit by both a massive earthquake and a tsunami) and the damage far less than feared (one of four reactors partially melted down, and nobody died either directly or indirectly) did nothing to mitigate the political and economic fallout.
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