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I don't think you're giving enough credit to the real cause behind nuclear power's unpopularity. It's too expensive. Even France who went all in with nuclear power is moving away from it due to expense. Look at how many people protested the Dakota Access Pipeline, and how little difference it made to the companies building it. Investors don't care about hippies keeping nuclear power plants away, and if they saw enough profit in nuclear power they would find a way to get it done. Even with the subsidies and grants offered by the Obama administration, there wasn't much commercial interest in nuclear power. If nuclear power is really the solution to climate change, then it needs to be even more subsidized if not nationalized in government run facilities by people who are motivated by something other than investor profit margins.



> Investors don't care about hippies keeping nuclear power plants away, and if they saw enough profit in nuclear power they would find a way to get it done.

Surely, if this is true, investors wouldn't sink a few billion into a project only to find that the politicians don't like it and shut it down? In Germany, a new reactor was completely built and ready, only to find that the government prevents them from ever taking it online. Investors saw money but the public perception in Germany (which is about as far from reality as anti-vaxxers are) changed it after all.


Same thing happened with the Rancho Seco plant (a couple miles from where I grew up), though at least that was somewhat justified, given that it had "a long record of multiple annual shut-downs, cost over-runs, mismanagement, multiple accidents that included radioactive steam releases, restarts after unresolved automatic shut-downs, and regular rate increases that included a 92% increase over one three-year span" (Wikipedia's words).

It's a shame that it had to be decommissioned entirely, though. I would've been okay with fixing it up. Alas, all that's left are the cooling towers; all the power generating equipment's long gone, so it'd probably be pointless to try to do anything with it now. It'll just have to loom ominously on the horizon. There's solar and natural gas generation there now, though, which is pretty neat, I guess.


Maybe that's true in Germany. I don't think corporations are as powerful there as in the US. That being said, it's my understanding that, like France, Germany is undertaking a massive shutdown of existing nuclear infrastructure. Do you have more details on the plant which was built but not turned on?


> Maybe that's true in Germany. I don't think corporations are as powerful there as in the US.

But that's precisely the issue. The anti-nuclear lobby in the US isn't just hippies, it's the oil and coal industries. The hippies are just the face they put on the TV because "coal industry opposes nuclear" sounds like an advertisement for nuclear.


This is a good point, but as far as I'm aware there is no legislation in the US prohibiting power companies from building nuclear plants right? In fact, there are subsidies and loan guarantees put in place by the government to encourage investment in nuclear. What precisely are oil and coal companies doing to prevent the construction of nuclear power plants?


When you're lobbying to destroy a competitor, it's hard to just pass a law explicitly prohibiting their industry. Media outlets will start asking why, and "because it causes coal companies to lose business" isn't a PR-compatible answer.

So the first thing you do is convince everybody that it's dangerous. Equate power generation with bombs, make a big deal about radioactive waste that lasts for thousands of years as if that's more problematic than ordinary chemical waste which lasts indefinitely, that sort of thing.

Once you've got everybody good and scared, demand safety rules. Paranoid, highly bureaucratic rules. Rules with much higher standards than the rules we use for other industries with a similar risk profile. As much red tape as possible. Make it so you can't unclog a toilet without an engineering study supervised by a team of attorneys. Make everything as arduous and expensive as possible and if anybody objects, accuse them of compromising safety.

Then tell everybody that we shouldn't build nuclear because it costs too much.


There was also an completely finished Austrian plant never turned on because of a referendum: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zwentendorf_Nuclear_Power_Plan...


Thanks, this is the clearest cut case of voters overriding the opening of a nuclear power plant. In the US we don't usually get to vote on things like that however. What is stopping the proliferation of nuclear power here?


The Kalkar fast breeder: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SNR-300

There are also plants in Greifswald and Stendal of Sovjet design that were completed or largely completed, but not put into use after reunification.


Ah, didn't realize what was being referred to happened 32 years ago and right before Chernobyl. Based on what (little) I've read about this reactor in particular, safety was just one of the concerns. The other was the expense. It took 13 years to build, was dramatically over budget and more expensive to run than anticipated. In addition, according to the report I read, the reactor had design flaws in common with Chernobyl which is one of the major reasons it ended up never being brought online. A similar reactor design in France (Superphenix) was also shut down due to the same safety and budget concerns. It seems like every single fast breeder reactor experiment around the world was an economic failure.

My source seemed relatively neutral if not friendly to the idea of nuclear power, so I don't think it's just a biased source, but would be happy to read about other analysis of the situation.

https://publikationen.bibliothek.kit.edu/270037170/3813531

https://energypost.eu/slow-death-fast-reactors/

> Fast reactors aren’t becoming mainstream. One country after another has abandoned the technology. Nuclear physicist Thomas Cochran summarises the history: “Fast reactor development programs failed in the: 1) United States; 2) France; 3) United Kingdom; 4) Germany; 5) Japan; 6) Italy; 7) Soviet Union/Russia 8) U.S. Navy and 9) the Soviet Navy. The program in India is showing no signs of success and the program in China is only at a very early stage of development.”


I'm on mobile and on the move, but it shouldn't be hard to find if you look at Wikipedia's list of nuclear plants around the world or in Germany or so.


France is reducing nuclear in the power mix because 50% is more than enough to supplement renewables and also because of aging utilities like Fessenheim that are becoming risky to operate and expensive to maintain. President Macron also pushed the target to 2035.


Which agrees with my premise. The reactors are being shut down because they are not economically competitive.


Not really. The average cost of electricity in France is 26.5% cheaper than the EU average. Fessenheim is also being closed due to pressure from anti nuke groups, Switzerland and Germany.


They're not economic at peak load but then become economic at base load in support of renewables? Sounds like a win-win.




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