Federal loan guarantees have been unleashed to support new nuclear plant construction. Will this be the watershed event that finally gets nuclear moving forward in the United States?
The Safety Vote
A prerequisite for sustained nuclear renaissance.
serious obstacle for a U.S. nuclear renaissance. Reprocessing and recycling options should be revisited in the United States.
The safe operations record of nuclear facilities over the last two decades, combined with better communications efforts, have favorably influenced general public opinion on nuclear energy. But even with this remarkable win for the industry, there is still a long way to go before the public is truly convinced about nuclear energy.
Of course, industry vigilance at all levels is the key to preventing nuclear accidents or major incidents from happening. But only with public acceptance and positive public opinion will the nuclear energy industry have occasion to demonstrate its enormous potential. If the public is not convinced, national and local opposition could deteriorate the economics of nuclear energy by creating big project overruns. At the extreme, it could kill the nuclear energy programs altogether, and deprive some countries of a schedulable, financially competitive and CO 2-free energy source.
Active and open communication is critical for the industry’s future. Governments will play a role in this communication effort, by disseminating information on today’s energy and climate change issues and on possible solutions—including nuclear energy. And nuclear operators also will play an important role, by providing the public with all possible relevant information, in an easy to understand way, and in a timely manner.
In every aspect of the industry—from planning through decommissioning and spent fuel management—safety is the keystone that will sustain the current industry and support a nuclear renaissance.