It was seen as risky, dangerous and uneconomical. Less than 10 years ago nuclear energy was still being treated as yesterday's news.
After the devastating Chernobyl reactor disaster, hardly any countries were interested in placing their bets on nuclear technology, and not even the energy companies believed that electricity from nuclear power plants had much of a future.
Nuclear power is back.
Two fundamental developments are fueling the nuclear energy comeback. The international effort to combat climate change favors power generation technologies that involve relatively low emissions of carbon dioxide. This includes nuclear reactors, which emit only a fraction of the amount of CO2 into the environment that comes from a coal-fired power plant, for example.
Rising oil prices are also a boost for nuclear energy. Until recently, it was considered especially cost-effective to produce electricity in small and flexible natural gas power plants. Gas was relatively cheap, and the plants were significantly less expensive to build than a nuclear power plant.
But for months now, gas prices have followed the steep rise in oil prices, and it is becoming increasingly clear to Western nations that the world's gas reserves are primarily in countries that are not necessarily considered the most political stable on earth, such as Libya and Russia. Many Western politicians now fear that those who choose to turn their backs on nuclear power could very well be putting themselves at the mercy of arbitrary dictators and autocrats.
In light of these new realities on the energy markets, many are now once again seeing nuclear energy as the lesser evil.
Seven examples of the global nuclear renaissance:
Prefab Reactors and Longer Lives
Nuclear Power in the Earthquake Zone
Putting Nuclear to the Vote
The British Atomic Green Revolution
The Monologue of Nuclear Power
An Archipelago of Staunch Nuclear Supporters
An Energetic Newcomer
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