In an interview with Al Jazeera Digital, former Nuclear Regulatory Commission chairman and self-proclaimed nuclear agnostic Allison Macfarlane said that untested advanced reactor designs and the high cost of building new power plants will limit nuclear’s ability to play a critical role in fighting the climate crisis, at least in the near future.
“Almost 19 percent of the power [in the United States] right now is produced by nuclear power. That’s carbon free. That’s really helpful. We don’t want to shut that off,” Macfarlane told Al Jazeera Digital’s managing business editor Patricia Sabga. “But I live in a pragmatic, realistic world. And I don’t think, at least in the next 10 or 20 years, that nuclear power will be able to have a big impact on reducing carbon emissions because we can’t build new plants fast enough.”