Warnings from GatesUnderscoring the need for nuclear reactors in a recent interview with the JoongAng Ilbo, Microsoft founder Bill Gates expressed hope that the general public opens their heart and accepts the use of nuclear energy. In his recently published book “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster,” Gates stressed that humanity needs a new tool to deal with climate change just like we need new cures and vaccines to fight the coronavirus. He accentuated the need to efficiently use existing clean energy solutions and develop new technologies to fight an uphill battle against global warming.
His advice boils down to a plea to take advantage of cost-effective energy sources like nuclear reactors in a safe and efficient way. That’s the only way to avoid a climate disaster, he maintained. Some cynics question if he wants to promote TerraPower, which he set up in 2006 to develop advanced reactors. But such accusations are not convincing. The grounds for Gates’ reasoning are clear. Despite the rapidly increasing demand for electricity as a result of the fast conversion of gas-powered vehicles to electric cars, hydroelectric power has already reached a limit around the globe and renewable energy from solar panels and windmills falls way short of producing as much electricity as nuclear plants. Nuclear power is the only energy source available on a 24/7 basis without any emissions.
That’s not a new argument. In 2019, the prestigious science journal Nature recommended a simultaneous use of reactors to prevent global warming given the inconsistent supply of electricity from renewable energies. Nevertheless, the Moon Jae-in administration turned a deaf ear to such advice and is bent on accelerating a nuclear phase-out — his campaign promise — to protect public safety despite strong opposition. Ideology-driven energy policy has replaced scientific judgment. Though not mentioning the name of a particular country, Gates expressed concerns about a government’s rush to phase out reactors. Without appropriate policy, technology and science for the next generation will be useless, he warned.
If the share of renewable energy rises to 35 percent of the energy pie, as the Moon administration wants, environmental destruction is unavoidable. An area nine times larger than Yeouido has already been destroyed to install solar panels across the country. The inevitable collapse of competitive industries related to nuclear plants and unavoidable hikes in utility bills are certain. The price will be paid by the people. We urge the government to wake up from its denuclearization fantasy as quickly as possible.