Nuclear power generation is necessary for the world to have cleaner energy solutions, although nuclear has yet to convince naysayers who generally associate it with Chernobyl or nuclear weapons, according to Bill Gates. In a recent interview with Andrew Ross Sorkin on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” Gates – who is invested in nuclear power ventures – said that nuclear electricity generation would “absolutely” be politically palatable because it is safer than coal, natural gas, and oil.
“Nuclear has actually been safer than any other source of [power] generation,” Gates told CNBC. “You know, coal plants, coal particulate, natural gas pipelines blowing up. The deaths per unit of power on these other approaches are — are far higher,” Gates said. Climate change advocate Gates wrote in his blog at the end of 2018 that the United States “needs to regain its leading role in nuclear power research.”
“Nuclear is ideal for dealing with climate change because it is the only carbon-free, a scalable energy source that’s available 24 hours a day. The problems with today’s reactors, such as the risk of accidents, can be solved through innovation,” Gates said back in 2018.
In 2006, Gates founded the nuclear energy venture TerraPower with other visionaries. Last year, the U.S. Department of Energy awarded TerraPower $80 million to demonstrate its small advanced nuclear power reactor Natrium and integrated energy system with its technology co-developer GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy and engineering and construction partner Bechtel.
TerraPower looks to build mini reactors to store electricity and thus supplement wind and solar power in the grids, TerraPower’s President and chief executive officer Chris Levesque told Reuters last year.
Gates, together with Jeff Bezos, is backing nuclear fusion, too. Commonwealth Fusion Systems, which was spun out of MIT, is working on fusion and is backed by the billionaires via the Breakthrough Energy fund that supports clean energy solutions.