One year after the nuclear crisis in Fukushima, Japan, the world’s nuclear industry is pushing ahead with plans to build more reactors, many in developing countries. Yet surveys show more people than ever are opposed to nuclear fission energy. In a June 2011 survey of 19,000 people across 24 countries, a British polling company found that only 38 percent of respondents approved of nuclear power, making it the least popular form of energy, even below coal-fired power plants. A November 2011 survey of more people showed even less popular support.
What’s the Big Idea?
In 2002, there was a record 444 nuclear power plants operating worldwide. Today, accounting for the Japanese reactors that have been taken off the grid, that number is only 388. China leads the world with 26 reactors and the Indian government is promoting nuclear power as a solution to the growing energy demands of its emerging economy. Yet per megawatt of capacity, building a nuclear energy plant is twice as expensive as a coal-fire plant and four times the cost of a gas-powered plant. Government support, or what nuclear experts call ‘nuclear socialism’ is essential in supporting the industry.