The Right are Against Renewable Energy
I think this is partly the wrong way to look at it. It is more of an issue that right wing parties or those skeptical towards climate change, conservatives etc often have a sort of tribal aversion to renewable energy.
Many conservatives view solar and wind power as a leftist, treehugger kind of thing. They don't favor it because they don't identify as a leftist or liberal. The way politics has radicalized, many will favor nuclear power for the simple reason that leftists are against it.
I am not making this up. I have had many conversations with conservatives and free market types of different shades who reject global warming as being man made. The ironic thing is that many of these people despite not regarding global warming as a problem we need to tackle strongly favor nuclear power.
This makes no sense given that, if global warming is not an issue, why would a transition to nuclear power even be necessary?
Instead nuclear power gets argued simply as a tactic to undermine efforts to pursue renewable energy production.
Why the Left is Against Nuclear Power
The simple answer is that we have much better options. Nuclear power advocacy is often simply a method of derailing the debate. Nuclear power makes absolutely no sense for multiple reasons:
- Solar and wind power is significantly cheaper.
- Solar and wind power prices drop rapidly year on year, while nuclear power prices increases or remain stagnant.
- Building nuclear power is very slow. It will take a long time to actually displace fossil fuel if we are building nuclear power plants.
- Technology development of nuclear power is very slow. New reactor designs take decades of testing and may not amount to anything. We don't have time for this.
- The public for good reasons doesn't like it and don't want it.
A lot of the arguments for Nuclear power is based on numerous flawed assumptions. For instance a popular argument for Nuclear advocates is how French power is significantly cheaper than German power. France of course has lots of Nuclear power while Germany is relying on renewable energy and coal.
The problem is that it is in an apples or oranges comparison. The cost of building out renewable power in Germany is factored into the electricity price. While a lot of the cost of Nuclear power in France is payed by the tax payer rather than the electricity consumer. Insuring against nuclear accidents is not included in the electricity bill, nor is the full cost of decommissioning nuclear power plants, or the risk of massive cost overruns when building new reactors.
The French energy company building and running reactors EDF is basically bankrupt and will likely need a huge taxpayer paid bailout. It has suffered huge financial blows from cost overruns of building new reactors, and it has significantly underestimated the cost of decommissioning old reactors.
Hence the price the French pay for electricity is in no way a reflection of the true cost of Nuclear power.
In fact Germany renewable energy corporations are expanding into France because they are profitable and competitive.
What About Future Modern Nuclear Reactor Designs?
There is no silver bullet in nuclear reactor design. There are almost always downsides to a design solving one issue. Pebble bed reactors for instance cannot have a nuclear meltdown by design. However in many ways they have a higher chance of causing a radioactive spill and they produce far more nuclear waste that must be treated.
Small Modular Reactors promise lower cost through mass production of smaller units. However this has never been proven nor we know if we will get the volumes that will create this price advantage. These reactors are also far less efficient and hence will consume more fuel and produce more waste.
A number of promising nuclear reactor types whether breeder reactors or thorium reactors have thus far not been demonstrated as economically viable. While we can certainly develop better design, the experience thus far has been that progress in the area simply advances very slowly.
Wind and solar power advance quickly because many units get mass produced in large factories. Nuclear power generation simply isn't mass producible in the same sense and thus you don't get the same rapid iterations and price reductions.