Tech Billionaires Rally Around Nuclear as Energy Crisis Looms

Elon Musk predicts solar power “will be the main long-term way that civilization is powered.”

In recent weeks, some of Silicon Valley’s most famous technologists have hailed a historically polarizing energy source — nuclear power — as a solution to both cutting carbon emissions and weaning the world off now-controversial Russian gas.

Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk wrote on Twitter that nuclear is “critical” to national security, while the risk of radiation is overplayed. And venture capitalist Marc Andreessen called for “1,000 new state-of-the-art nuclear power plants in the U.S. and Europe, right now.” The war galvanized a sentiment which has been building in recent years in the startup world, where billionaires including Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Peter Thiel have opened their wallets to back next-generation nuclear companies. None of the advanced reactor startups has yet produced an operating commercial product, but some believe that the combination of tech advances and a new urgency around ditching fossil fuels could be a catalyst for the sector — which has mostly languished in regulatory purgatory since the 1970s.

Elon Musk calls for nuclear power in Europe

Musk  pledges to eat food grown near reactors

In a tweet on Sunday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk called for Europe to generate more nuclear power to offset fears of a gas shortage.

It is “extremely obvious,” Musk wrote, that Europe should restart dormant nuclear power plants and boost the output of those that are operational. The tweet — which has been retweeted more than 31,100 times as of press time — drew its fair share of backlash online.

Elon Musk says that nuclear energy is the key to breaking Europe’s dependence on Russian oil as crude prices continued to surge to near-record levels amid the ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

Musk is so certain that there is little risk from relying on nuclear power that he is willing to go to a “high-radiation” area and “eat locally grown food on TV.”

UK: Nuclear Reactors “At The Heart” Of Decarbonization Strategy

 “Net zero” strategy

The United Kingdom could be ready to officially put nuclear power back on the map That’s because UK ministers are planning on putting nuclear power “at the heart of Britain’s strategy to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050,” a new report from the Financial Times reveals.

In what is one of the boldest statements about the future of nuclear in a major geographic area, government documents will lay out a “net zero” strategy for the UK as well as a cost assessment of implementing the strategy to meet the 2050 goal. Then, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to give the documents a “go ahead”.

A New Era Of Innovation Is Coming To The Nuclear Sector

Smaller-scale version of nuclear reactors would be mass-produced

When it comes to clean energy, solar panels and wind power usually dominate the conversation, while cutting-edge and unproven technologies from green hydrogen to nuclear fusion feature prominently in headlines. But the actual powerhouses of the climate-friendly energy revolution receive far less lip service.

“Nuclear power and hydropower form the backbone of low-carbon electricity generation,” reports the International Energy Agency (IEA). “Together, they provide three-quarters of global low-carbon generation.” Nuclear power alone has prevented the emissions of over 60 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere over the past 50 years.

Innovations and advances are taking place in the nuclear energy sector that may be able to bring the industry into the 21st century and make increased adoption more appealing for nations that are on the fence about nuclear power. One of the key advances in nuclear technology that is close to becoming a reality is the deployment of small modular reactors (SMRs), a smaller-scale version of nuclear reactors which would be mass-produced and assembled on-site, improving efficiency and making building new reactors far more cost-effective.

Elon Musk says he’s ‘pro-nuclear’ power

Elon Musk is surprised by some of the public sentiment’ against nuclear industry

Musk’s comments came in response to a question about rising energy demands that may come with a shift to electric vehicles. Despite his support for nuclear power, Musk said meeting this increased demand will depend on “large sustainable power generation developments, primarily wind and solar.”

While utilities will need to boost their production capacity, they can only do so much because power lines also have a limited capacity to distribute electricity to homes and businesses, he added.

“This is why I think it’s actually very important that a necessary part of the solution is local power generation,” Musk said, referencing Tesla Energy’s solar roof and battery products.