Tech Titans Like Bill Gates Are Gambling on Nuclear Power — But It Looks to Be a Losing Bet
Nearly 50 American and Canadian tech companies, including heavy hitters like Bill Gates, have invested over a billion dollars in next-generation nuclear technologies in the last 10 years, according to the think tank Third Way.
Despite declining public trust in nukes, especially since the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown in Japan in March 2011, proponents argue that nuclear is key — some say the key — to providing reliable energy while at the same time helping to rid the world of fossil fuels.
“We were compelled by a mission to get involved in a very pressing energy challenge, and that’s a challenge that is exacerbated by a growing world population, by a propensity of people move to cities,” Marcia Burkey, chief financial officer of TerraPower, told VICE News. Bellingham, Washington-based TerraPower was founded by Bill Gates and is developing new nuclear reactor technologies.
But critics of nuclear power say this rosy picture does not match the realities of the industry, and that the technologies are too far from being scaled up commercially to meet the urgency of lowering emissions. What’s more, they say, the money behind the current push for more advanced reactors is paltry compared to the costs associated with developing, licensing, and constructing even a single nuclear plant.