Nuclear Industry Troubles

Nuclear energy has proven to be the most contentious form of energy, even though it has proven to be far safer than fossil fuel sources. The reason it has failed to live up to the potential it was expected to have in the 1970s, however, is only indirectly due to concerns over its safety.

The lack of a conducive trade and regulatory environment, apart from the nature of technology involved, has led to delays and the inflation of costs. The nuclear industry has to compete with other sources that are relatively more profitable, and far cheaper for the consumer — and renewable sources take far less time to set up. Nuclear energy’s USP — that of being non-polluting — is easily destroyed by affordable solar and wind sources today.

And this lack of competitiveness has impacted the private nuclear industry. A recent victim of this has been Toshiba, which will exit the Nuclear business altogether, as reported by WSJ.

Toshiba Corp. plans to stop building nuclear power plants after incurring billions of dollars in losses trying to complete long-delayed projects in the U.S., a move that could have widespread ramifications for the future of the nuclear-power industry.

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Toshiba’s decision deals a fatal blow to its ambitions to become a major player in the nuclear construction business. The company has bet aggressively on Westinghouse’s AP1000 reactor design, which it hoped would anchor a new generation of nuclear power plants that were supposed to be easier to build and to deliver on time. But signs emerged that the AP1000 wasn’t as easy to build as hoped, and yet Toshiba remained confident and took on added financial risk, according to legal filings and interviews with people involved with the construction process.

Toshiba isn’t the only company facing economic pressures. The WSJ piece has further details.