It's happening baby! Alas, COP26 didn't help it along as much as it should have which is really too bad. No worries, I've still got my nuclear power smiley face button at the ready!
Gabrielle Gurley at The American Prospect runs down what's been happening and how COP26 dropped the ball.
"A strange thing happened on the way to COP26. Japanese voters returned the Liberal Democratic Party to power, and its leader, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, is a supporter of nuclear energy and of restarting the country’s sidelined nuclear plants. Elsewhere, French President Emmanuel Macron once wanted to backtrack on France’s all-in nuclear strategy, but now he intends to bankroll a new generation of nuclear facilities to replace its aging plants. The United States trumpeted its pursuit of state-of-the-art nuclear reactors, while Britain crowed about its commitments to nuclear energy....
You might suppose that the planet’s premier international climate conference could be a safe space to thrash out the varying takes on the role of nuclear energy in dealing with the climate crisis and getting to net zero. But the world’s second most widely used clean-energy source has had something of a pariah status at COP26. The climate summit’s refusal to acknowledge nuclear power’s singular role in global energy production and its possible viability as a bridge fuel says more than streets full of anti-nuclear protesters ever could about the controversial space that nuclear energy occupies in the global decarbonization debate....
In COP26’s first week, climate negotiators made significant strides by agreeing to curtail methane emissions and dial back deforestation. The most surprising shift was a commitment to a two-pronged phaseout of coal supported by developed countries and developing countries alike (although the U.S., U.K., and Canada declined to make the leap, pledging only to end investments in fossil fuel plants abroad). But with European Union countries at odds on nuclear, and facing an imminent EU financing decision on which energy sources the bloc counts as green, COP26 opted to keep the nuclear question as unanswered, and undiscussed, as possible, and accorded the lowest of low profiles to the nuclear energy advocates in attendance.
The choices confronting the international community about nuclear power are both urgent and difficult. Countries have to balance concerns over the economic role, as well as the safety and security, of a net-zero energy source already in use against the reality of rapid planetary degradation. That explains the recent dash of some political leaders to SMRs, which give the appearance of being a viable technology though they are years away from deployment. What’s emerging is a discordant free-for-all that edges nuclear energy forward without coordinated leadership, much less consensus. Or, as IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi, who was advised to stay home but showed up at COP26 anyway, brazenly told Bloomberg Green, “The message to the public is that nuclear will be a very useful element in the equation, whether you like it or not.”
But if COP26 can’t offer a viable forum to kick-start the debate about the role of nuclear energy and new technologies on the road to net zero, just how, when, and where on Earth does it happen?"
Where indeed? But, regardless, the nuclear comeback is likely to continue.