In the anti-nuke corner we have Al Gore, who pointedly cites "the grossly unacceptable economics of the present generation of reactors." He begins his chapter on the nuclear option: "In the world’s debate over how to produce electricity without generating massive quantities of greenhouse gas pollution, there is a radioactive white elephant in the middle of the room: nuclear power." A white elephant is generally an object that costs more to maintain than it is worth. And it turns out that nuclear energy’s excessive cost is one of two the chief arguments that Gore deploys against it. The second is the risk that nuclear fuel might be diverted to produce nuclear weapons. Gore quite rightly acknowledges that nuclear power is safe and that the issue of how to store nuclear waste could be solved.
Gore notes that in the 1960s, the old Atomic Energy Commission predicted that the United States would have 1,000 nuclear power plants operating by the year 2000. That didn’t happen. Instead only 104 plants are currently operating and they generate about 20 percent of the nation’s electricity. Construction costs for building a nuclear power plant have increased from $400 million in the 1970s to $4 billion by the 1990s and building times doubled. Gore highlights bottlenecks that could choke any nuclear renaissance, including the fact that critical components such as containment facilities to house reactors are currently being produced by only one Japanese company.
Ref: Ronald Bailey