Jeff Johnson, Chemical & Engineering News: The U.S. appears to be witnessing the slow death of nuclear power. Plants are aging out and retiring, and their place in the electricity marketplace is being captured by cheaper, simpler, and less controversial sources—particularly natural gas plants and renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.
Petr Beckmann, Professor of Electrical Engineering: This energy book is still the most concise comparison of health hazards across multiple electrical generating technologies of which I am aware. He makes clear that no technique for generating electricity is absolutely safe. Each has its risks. However some are much more dangerous to human safety and health than others. His energy book carefully makes comparisons and shows that our failure to use nuclear as the primary heat source for electrical power generation has sentenced many people to premature death. Nuclear power generation using U.S. technology is not only safer in some aspects, but in all significant aspects.
World Nuclear Association: • Switzerland has five nuclear reactors generating up to 40% of its electricity. Two large new units were planned. • National votes have confirmed nuclear energy as an ongoing part of Switzerland's electricity mix. • In June 2011 parliament resolved not to replace any reactors, and hence to phase out nuclear power gradually, and this was confirmed in a 2017 referendum.
Energy policy 2011 on: The seven-member Federal Council decided to ignore a referendum that had supported new nuclear power only one month earlier and declared that the country's nuclear power plants would not be replaced. The proposal was also approved by the upper house, the 46-member Council of States, by 3:1, though subject to ongoing review of technology options which might allow new plants.
World Nuclear Association: • Nuclear power capacity worldwide is increasing steadily, with about 50 reactors under construction. • Most reactors on order or planned are in the Asian region, though there are major plans for new units in Russia. • Significant further capacity is being created by plant upgrading. • Plant lifetime extension programs are maintaining capacity, particularly in the USA. There are about 450 nuclear power reactors operating in 30 countries plus Taiwan, with a combined capacity of over 390 GWe. In 2015 these provided about 11% of the world's electricity. About 50 power reactors are currently being constructed in 13 countries, notably China, India, UAE and Russia.
China has 936 GWe, India 215 GWe, the world more than 1,373 GWe of coal plant capacity. In the next half century, more nuclear power capacity will be retired without replacement than new capacity added except in Russia, China and maybe India. Countries with exemplary nuclear power programs like Switzerland have decided to discontinue use of nuclear power as their plants reach end of life. Energy experts are at a complete loss of what Switzerland will do.
Madison Freeman, www.defenseone.com, Council of Foreign Relations: Russia and China are using nuclear power projects to build spheres of energy dependence, and the United States is unprepared to respond. The Akkuyu reactor shows how Russia — and now China — are using energy exports to build influence abroad. Russia bids for such projects through its state-owned nuclear company, Rosatom, under a model that finances construction of nuclear plants, furnishes the trained personnel to run them, and leases them back to the client country. These projects come with more than a monetary price tag. Meanwhile, U.S. nuclear companies find it nearly impossible to compete against government-backed competitors motivated by political goals more than profit.
Peter Fairley, IEEE: The most advanced commercial reactor designs from Europe and the United States just delivered their first megawatt-hours of electricity within one day of each other in China. This is great for China. The United States is in the process of acquiescing to anti-nuclear organizations and their politicians by closing nuclear plants with no plans to replace them with more nuclear. Where will this lead?
Nadine Freischlad, writer for Mongabay Series: In the early 2000s, Kirk Sorensen had begun trying to revive interest in an alternative type of reactor, one that uses the element thorium instead of uranium to start the nuclear reaction, and liquid fuel instead of solid rods to sustain it. He believes thorium could make the next generation of nuclear power plants safer and easier to manage, and provide the world with an abundance of clean, cheap and safe energy. Nuclear had been considered in Indonesia before, but plans never materialized due to safety concerns. After all, Indonesia is prone to earthquakes and tsunamis, a country of thousands of islands draped across the seismic Ring of Fire.
Vaclav Smil, Czech-Canadian scientist and policy analyst. Professor Emeritus in the Faculty of Environment at the University of Manitoba in Canada: The age of commercial nuclear electricity generation began on 17 October 1956, when Queen Elizabeth II switched on Calder Hall, on the Cumberland coast of England. Sixty years is long enough to judge the technology, and I still cannot improve on my evaluation from the early 2000s: a “successful failure.” He says that we have to have better technology. The record for nuclear safety and production of electricity exceeds all other forms of generating electricity. For some, nuclear will never be safe or good enough.
James Conca, scientist in the field of earth and environmental sciences. Contributor to Forbes: The Center for Global Development recently published a new report, Atoms for Africa, discussing how there is more interest in nuclear energy among African countries than the rest of the world realizes. Co-authored by Jessica Lovering, Director of Energy at the Breakthrough Institute, and three Fellows the report outlines how new nuclear technologies can accelerate deployment and solve fears like meltdowns and weapons proliferation. African countries with the most experience operating nuclear reactors are South Africa and Egypt. They should advance to the next level with more nuclear power and at the same time guide other African countries with strong nuclear regulatory agencies and professionals with nuclear and other engineering degrees.
Alan Waltar, nuclear engineer, Past President of the American Nuclear Society: Nuclear energy may be the first large industry in history that is capable of removing essentially all its wastes from the biosphere. [p. 108] It is important to recognize that the waste quantities we need to deal with are quite tractable, much smaller than the waste of any comparable industrial endeavor. If Americans received all their electricity from nuclear energy, rather than the 21% we receive today, the amount of high level nuclear waste (HLW) we would each be responsible for annually could be contained in three small marbles. By any relative measure, the volume of HLW that we must deal with is small, incredibly small.