Long shunned, nuclear plants are getting a second look. Are they safe, clean, and efficient enough to start building again? Here’s everything you need to know:
Is there a nuclear energy revival?
In most of the world, not quite yet — but there is certainly renewed interest. The combination of climate change and a global energy crunch caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is making nuclear power look much more attractive. Once hailed as a cleaner, more bountiful alternative to fossil fuels, nuclear power saw its prospects dim after the accident at Three Mile Island in the U.S., the Chernobyl catastrophe in Ukraine, and the meltdowns at Japan’s Fukushima plant in 2011.
“SMRs as a class have a potential to change the economics,” said Robert Rosner, a physicist at the University of Chicago. But critics argue SMRs don’t produce enough electricity to justify the cost per unit — and the Utah project has already been forced to downsize because of cost overruns.