Nuclear at the Crossroad
Nicolas Loris /
As we continue to chronicle the worldwide nuclear renaissance here on the Foundry and at The Heritage Foundation, it is important to note the outlier nations and the reasons for which they resist nuclear power.
Europe draws nearly a third of its electricity from nuclear power and is likely to increase its supply of energy from nuclear in the future. France, which draws about 80% of its electricity from nuclear, is the strongest advocate. But domestic politics in several countries, such as Germany and the Czech Republic, are diverting reasonable energy policies from developing. Australia suffers from similarly silly domestic politics that block the implementation of sensible energy strategy.
Two trends are developing: one is sweeping forward with nuclear energy to meet rising energy demands, and the other is retrenching on nuclear. The United States is straddling the fence, an unsustainable position.
The good news is there is evidence that American nuclear energy will develop for the first time in 30 years. However, there is a marked difference between Barack Obama and John McCain on nuclear, and the presidential election could be telling of how this nation moves forward on the issue.
McCain has been explicit and specific in his support of nuclear power and proposes a goal to build 45 new plants in the next 15 years. Barack Obama is unclear on the specifics of his energy plan; he vaguely supports nuclear energy but criticizes McCain’s 45 reactor goal by saying we first need a solution for nuclear waste. Even the left leaning Guardian has vilified Obama for avoiding nuclear energy.
Here’s the take away: most of the world is poised to leap ahead with nuclear energy with only a few countries falling behind because of anti-nuclear ideology. The United States still receives 20% of its electricity from nuclear but faces an important decision as it searches for answers to global warming and meeting skyrocketing energy demands: Either side with the countries falling behind or push forward to reestablish commercial nuclear power as clean, safe, and affordable form of energy in America.