Is nuclear energy ‘sustainable’ and deserving of tax breaks? It’s a question dividing member states of the European Union which is considering what role nuclear should play in efforts to wean the continent off fossil fuels. Germany announced it would phase out its existing nuclear power plants after the disaster at Fukushima in Japan in 2011. But others are pushing ahead with plans to extend the life of existing power stations and even build new ones. But with the cost of renewable energy plummeting, critics say money invested in nuclear could be better spent upgrading power grids and improving the resiliency of cleaner forms of energy. Nuclear enthusiasts say new, smaller nuclear reactors will soon become available and could help keep the lights on when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine. There’s increasing private sector money going towards the development of the next generation of nuclear reactors, plus Russia and China continue to invest heavily in a sector which provides export opportunities – particularly in the developing world. So, what role will nuclear play in the future and will the technology help or hinder attempts to avert catastrophic climate change?
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