The End of the Nuclear ‘Renaissance’?

If you’ve tracked media coverage of nuclear power, you know that every few months or so nuclear power is about to enjoy a comeback. The “nuclear renaissance” has always been right around the corner, we’ve often been told.

Take the New York Times, for example:

-Few industries have enjoyed the kind of renaissance that nuclear power may be poised to undergo.

-After decades in the doghouse because of environmental, safety and cost concerns, nuclear power is enjoying a renaissance of expectations.
(editorial, 5/29/01)

-Energy shortages may be creating talk of a nuclear power renaissance.

-“Much Talk of a Nuclear Renaissance, but So Far Little Action”
(headline, 3/3/06)

-The continuing fight over Indian Point comes as nuclear power is anticipating a renaissance, mainly because of the high price of natural gas.

-One day this May, on a brisk morning so clear that I could see its cooling towers from 20 miles away, I visited Vogtle on one leg of a tour to assess what many in the energy industry are calling a nuclear renaissance.
(7/16/06– a piece with the subhead “A Nuclear Renaissance?”)

-major step toward actual construction after several years of speculation about a nuclear renaissance.

-As the chief executive of Constellation Energy, a utility holding company in Baltimore that already operates five nuclear reactors, Mr. Shattuck is convinced that nuclear power is on the verge of a renaissance, ready to provide reliable electricity at a competitive price.

-NEW REACTORS ACROSS THE GLOBE: A Nuclear Power Renaissance
(headline, 1/16/07)

-The senior member of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission warned on Monday that the failure of Congress to pass a detailed budget for the current fiscal year could damage the nuclear renaissance that the government tried so hard to encourage with the energy bill of 2005.

-”To bring about the nuclear renaissance in the United States, it really is going to take the global nuclear industry,” said Michael J. Wallace, a Constellation executive who will be chairman of the new entity. ”Vendors, suppliers, operators and investors like E.D.F. who understand and are comfortable with the technology — we need them all.”

-”A nuclear renaissance is now gearing up everywhere in the world,” said John B. Ritch III , a former American diplomat and director general of the World Nuclear Association, an industry group. ”It is occurring parallel to an enormous expansion in energy consumption.”

-Gregory B. Jaczko, one of the federal agency’s three commissioners, said it might not have enough staff members to do now what it did in the 1970s and ’80s — supervise the construction of a couple of dozen types of reactors. The commission has been hiring rapidly to prepare for a nuclear renaissance, but officials there were counting on standardization, if not quite mass production, as a way to manage the workload.

-the so-called nuclear renaissance is moving slowly.

-Worries about carbon dioxide and galloping demand for electricity might seem to be setting the stage for a renaissance of nuclear power.

-More than 90 percent of Areva is held by the French government, which also could inject more money into the company at a time when nuclear power could be on the verge of a renaissance.

-Today, concern about climate change and desire for ”energy independence” have driven former skeptics to take another look at nuclear power. Some even talk of a ”nuclear renaissance.”
(book review, 3/8/09)

-The massive power plant under construction on muddy terrain on this Finnish island was supposed to be the showpiece of a nuclear renaissance.

-But the companies are concerned that the credit crisis has dealt a critical blow to nuclear power in the United States, which had been perceived as undergoing a renaissance starting in 2004.

-David M. Ratcliffe, the chairman and chief executive of the Southern Company, said that a nuclear renaissance was in the wings and that ”we will get on with that at a more rapid pace now that we’ve made this first step.”

-Clarence Fenner, the work force development coordinator for the South Texas Project, a Bay City councilman and a former first sergeant in the Army. ”This nuclear renaissance is important for our community, our state and our country. It’s not just a job.”

-Is this the long-awaited renaissance of the nuclear construction business, after years of being moribund?

-Tomas Kaberger, director general of the Swedish Energy Agency, said there was no certainty that any of the plants would be built, despite talk of a nuclear renaissance.

-The project had once been hailed as a cornerstone of a nuclear power renaissance.

-Over the last decade, Kazakhstan rapidly became the world’s largest uranium producer, overtaking Canada with vast increases in production. According to World Nuclear Association figures, Kazakh production jumped 62 percent from 2008 to 2009. Overall global demand remained steady, however, because the long-promised nuclear renaissance was always just over the horizon.

-In his State of the Union address, President Obama proposed giving the nuclear construction business a type of help it has never had, a role in a quota for clean energy. But recent setbacks in a hoped-for ”nuclear renaissance” raise questions about how much of a role nuclear power can play.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.