Tuesday, 3 May 2011
Bill Gates On Nuclear Energy: Compared To Coal, It Is Still Safer In Terms Of People ?Killed Per Kilowatt Hour?
After the nuclear disaster in Japan at the Fukushima reactors, the general public is understandably skittish about nuclear energy once again. But not Bill Gates. Speaking today at a Wired business conference in New York City, he is talking up the benefits of nuclear energy, particularly next-generation designs. The backlash, he thinks, is overblown. "If you compare it to the amount that coal has killed per kilowatt hour," he points out, "it is way, way less." When an accident does occur, however, its effects are much more visible. "Coal kills fewer people at one time, which is highly preferred by politicians," he says. Gates is putting his money where his mouth is. He is an investor in his friend Nathan Myrhvold's nuclear reactor startup Terrapower, which is designing one such next-generation nuclear reactor which produces one thousandth as much radioactive waste. But he also has investments in "dozens" of other energy companies, from battery companies to solar to biofuels. "We should pursue them all," he says. "The amount of IQ working on energy today and the tools they have to simulate compared to 20 years ago is night and day, but it is unpredictable whether we will get a breakthrough."