Nuclear Power is one of those things that is a great idea, but impractical.
Not because of any technological or social reasons, but because of simple economics.
Proponents of Nuclear Power point out how it could power our civilization for 750 years. So it would seem economics is on their side. Oddly enough these economists are doing the opposite of what I criticize most economists for. They are looking at the Macro Economic Model and ignoring the Micro Economic. Most bad ideas in Economics do the opposite.
Every industry goes through stages.
There is the Idea:
In nuclear power this was the Theory of Relativity through the Manhattan Project.
Three generations of reactors each a little closer to being economically feasible but not quite. It works great in specialized settings but that's it.
The Entrepreneurial Stage.
Inventors jump on the technology and try all sorts of things, the improvements make money the quack ideas don't.
Um, it hasn't happened after nearly 60 years.
Here is why Nuclear Power hasn't and never will go through the Entrepreneurial Stage.
DOING THAT IS INSANE!
In any other industry a the Entrepreneurial Stage is led by crazy people experimenting with the technology in their garage.
I hate to get all libertarian on the idea, but this is the stage where government regulations do get in the way of progress. It's the crazy ones with no regard for anything but making their idea work that send the industry to the next level.
That worked great for computers. Rocket Science is a little dangerous but the $100,000 liability insurance on the standard homeowners insurance pretty much covers it.
But building a nuclear reactor in your garage is insane. A small nuke could take out several blocks with the blast. Worse the radiation can spread over an entire city. Your homeowners policy can't cover that amount of damage.
The nuclear industry could, with huge subsidies, progress. In the next 60 years we could have Generation 4, 5, and 6 reactors. Each a little more efficient and slightly safer. Maybe even get to the point where politicians believe the nuclear industry is now. But the industry will never be a robust contributor of energy to the average person.
On Earth, people can't experiment with nuclear power in a way that both good ideas and awful ideas are tried. An awful idea with nuclear power means billions in damage.
Once we have a robust colony on the Moon we could experiment there, nuclear fallout wouldn't be a major concern. But in the 60 or more years it would take for that to happen other technologies will make nuclear power unnecessary, especially if we devote the money given to the nuclear industry to those technologies.
So to the people who think nuclear power is the way to replace oil and coal, I say, “Shut-up Stupid. Nuclear Power will never be a viable option. The damage it can cause is too great for it to be deregulated to the point where it can be heavily experimented with, so there can't be the huge Entrepreneurial breakthroughs. If you deregulated it enough so it could go through that stage, the insurance industry would be forced to require billion dollar liability coverages on homeowner insurance making living a house impossible, so there would be no one to sell the power to. Without the Entrepreneurial Stage for the industry, making it economically feasible is impossible.”
By Darrell B. Nelson author of I KILLED THE MAN THAT WASN'T THERE