why we don’t rely on nuclear power plants more, especially these days


why we don’t rely on nuclear power plants more, especially these days

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The short answer is that building a nuclear power plant is exceedingly difficult, time-consuming, and expensive.

It takes years of work to get all of the regulatory requirements met. Environmental impact studies. Safety analysis. Financial and ownership compliance.

Construction requires a tremendous amount of paperwork to prove that it was constructed safely and according to the approved design. Changes need to be analyzed and approved.

Combine that with NIMBY public sentiment and you have a lot of obstacles to overcome.

There are many issues here but for a very ELI5 answer:

When we were first researching nuclear power, we had a few options. Some were safer, some cheaper and one also made the material we needed for nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, the people in charge chose the weapons option and scrapped the rest.

This means that even though nuclear plants are less harmful than coal, oil and gas plants (those are responsible for many many more deaths than nuclear) They are still dangerous and very highly regulated. There is lots and lots of red tape and inspections and very expensive things added to every new build.

The big added expenses and all of the fossil fuel powerplant owners and suppliers making things up about nuclear plants (fear mongering etc.) Means new plants are hard to get approved to be built in countries in the West. A couple of big profile incidents in older powerplants rightly got a lot of press, but this turned people against nuclear power instead of driving change in the industry to the better options.

Luckily many countries ARE building new, safer designed nuclear power plants. Also, most importantly, the research into the much cheaper and safer types of nuclear power (that also produce many times less waste) has restarted. If things progress well, thorium generators will soon be being built as new much safer nuclear power plants worldwide to make up the energy shortfall before we can transition to even cleaner options.


In short, money and politics. The green lobby around the world was basically founded on anti-nuclear sentiment because they couldn’t (and still can’t) separate nuclear weapons with nuclear power in their minds.

Nuclear got an undeserved bad reputation that made it politically unpopular to the point that people would rather have a coal plant (that emits more radiation into the environment than nuclear plants) because of entirely baseless fears.

Nuclear plants are very expensive at the beginning and end of their life cycles, but last a lot longer than other plants. This means you need to spend a ton of money before you make any money so it’s unattractive to private investors and governments alike.

Nuclear plants face the double problems of being very expensive to build and that money needs to be invested a long time before any power is generated, this is then combined with that when they go wrong it is a true disaster and will probably cost politicians and senior employees their jobs. This means that Renewables make a better option for a new generating power plant.