Europe has apparently had a change of heart on nuclear power. First Germany began reconsidering its ban on nuclear power generation, and now Sweden has ended its ban on reactors. The path to green energy requires a few split atoms, it seems (via Instapundit):
The Swedish government agreed Thursday to scrap a three-decade ban on building new nuclear reactors, saying it needs to avoid producing more greenhouse gases.
Sweden is a leader on renewable energy but is struggling to develop alternative source like hydropower and wind to meet its growing energy demands. If parliament approves scrapping the ban, Sweden would join a growing list of countries rethinking nuclear power as a source of energy amid concerns over global warming and the reliability of energy suppliers such as Russia. Britain, France and Poland are planning new reactors and Finland is currently building Europe’s first new atomic plant in over a decade.
The agreement was made possible after a compromise by the Center Party, a junior coalition member which has long held a skeptical stance toward nuclear power.
“I’m doing this for the sake of my children and grandchildren,” said party leader Maud Olofsson. “I can live with the fact that nuclear power will be part of our electricity supply system in the foreseeable future.”
The Swedes have pursued green technology with a passion, but so far have found no answers in alternatives. Nuclear power accounts for half of their electricity, and with existing reactors aging, they will either have to start burning fossil fuels to replace the loss of generating power or replace the reactors. Their parliament wants to do just that, building no new sites but replacing existing reactors with newer, safer, more efficient systems to guarantee their standard of living for the foreseeable future.
This reflects popular sentiment in Sweden and elsewhere in Europe. The Swedes have exploited hydropower for all it’s worth, but still cannot generate enough to make up the loss of nuclear power. As the promise of alternatives looks more and more long-term rather than immediate, Europeans have reconsidered their opposition to nuclear power. It eliminates greenhouse gas emissions, and new systems such as pebble-bed reactors are significantly safer than even the reliable earlier models which continue to function almost 30 years after the referendum that demanded their closure.
Americans need to start acting on behalf of their children and grandchildren. We should invest in nuclear-power infrastructure now in order to ensure the stable electrical generation that allows us to enjoy an unparalleled standard of living. Waiting around for “alternatives” will eventually leave us in the dark and far behind our global competition.