Americans afraid Of Nuclear Power

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Axios pointed out that as AI’s electricity requirements surge, nuclear power must be part of the alternative energy needed to lessen the use of fossil fuels to feed the grid. The challenge is that many Americans, perhaps remembering Three Mile Island, do not want nuclear energy to be part of the solution. 

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Axios authors wrote, “With the artificial intelligence boom taking shape and policymakers hoping to bring more electric vehicles online, nuclear power is seen as one of the more promising ways to power up without excess emissions.” A Pew Research poll, however, shows, “Critics highlight the high cost of nuclear power plant projects and the complexities of handling radioactive waste.”

Advanced Small Modular Reactors (SMRs)

Nuclear plants do not have to be large or dangerous. According to the Department of Energy, Advanced Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) are a vital part of the Department’s goal to develop safe, clean, and affordable nuclear power options. These are small enough to be located where large reactors cannot be. “SMRs also offer distinct safeguards, security and nonproliferation advantages.”

The number of nuclear reactors in the US peaked in 1990 at 111. The number has fallen to 90 and is likely to fall more. As reactors go offline, they are not replaced. The federal government has a lengthy approval process, including safety screens. 

Most people over 50 remember Three Mile Island, a colossal reactor in Pennsylvania. It had a meltdown in one of its reactors, which released radioactive gases and radioactive iodine into the environment. It was the worst nuclear accident in American history. As The Economist pointed out, it shook the public’s confidence about the safety of large reactors.

Three Mile Island

A portion of the American population is still highly anxious about nuclear power, And wind and solar energy do not create enough energy to offset the use of coal. Will reactors, which are now smaller and safer, make a comeback? Not very soon, it is likely.

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