Nukewatch Quarterly Fall 2020
By Christine Manwiller
As renewable energy sources become more cost effective, nuclear power is being seen as a losing investment. In its November 2019 report “The Energy Transition: Nuclear Dead and Alive” S&P Global Ratings stated, “Renewables are significantly cheaper and offer quicker payback on scalable investments at a time when power demand is stagnating.” Indeed, current international energy investment trends favor renewables, largely because nuclear power is not considered “clean.” Building nuclear reactors is hugely expensive due to increasing construction costs, and the complexity of meeting safety requirements imposed after Fukushima. Significantly, the S&P report even tells investors that nuclear power would not exist without “massive government support.”
S&P also advises against investing in small modular reactors (SMRs), which may eventually be permitted, but which can’t be developed without government funding. Although SMRs are considered a low initial investment, the reactors’ safety can’t be assured, high-level radioactive waste leaves the same disastrous legacy, while renewables are far less expensive and quicker to bring online.