No breakthroughs in nuclear energy – not cheaper, faster or safer
In his 2014 book titled ‘Clean Disruption’, Stanford lecturer in entrepreneurship, disruption and clean energy Tony Seba likened nuclear energy to a zombie: “not quite alive but not dead either”. Seba points out that nuclear energy has consistently failed to deliver, with the industry characterised by cost overruns, massive delays in construction and life-threatening accidents. A researcher on clean energy, he points out that nuclear is one of the few industries with a negative learning curve, with the cost to build a reactor now more than ten times the cost in the 1970s. Serhii Plokhy, a Harvard history professor and leading authority on the nuclear age points out in his recently published book “Atom and Ashes” that hundreds of accidents have happened in the history of the nuclear industry and explains in detail the category 7, highest level accidents at Chernobyl (Ukraine, 1986) and Fukushima (Japan, 2011) that released large quantities of radioactive material with severe environmental and health consequences. What is more, Vladimir Putin is currently demonstrating the geopolitical dangers that large nuclear sites bring. Plokhy summarizes nuclear energy as not only risky to operate but also impossible to count on as a long-term solution to climate change. The energy crisis seems to be giving new space for nuclear energy enthusiasts to defend the technology as a non-fossil fuel solution to the energy transition.