I realize that I get a rather biased view of the world because I specifically search out articles about certain new nuclear plant projects and about energy topics in general. That said, it seems that there is a growing confluence of factors leading to an increasing probability that there will be a lot of new nuclear power plants constructed in the next few decades.
There are still significant hurdles to cross and a lot of learning to do to ensure that we avoid the pitfalls of the past. So far, it looks like we might be making some of the same decisions that eventually led to the slow death of the first Atomic Age. The consequences of those decisions might be a bit different this time – after all, there is a much different dynamic in the energy market today than there was in the mid 1970s when there was still a lot more oil left in the ground that needed a market. No matter what your opinion of Peak Oil, unless you believe that there is some kind of natural oil producing mechanism in the Earth you have to admit that we have burned up a lot of the initial inventory in the past 30+ years.
Here are some of the decisions that slowed the developments in the past:
1. Bigger is better.
2. Access to legal methods of project interference was enabled without any recognition that there were plenty of interested people who could make a lot of money simply by delay tactics.
3. The government subsidized the interference.
4. Nuclear industry leaders provided weapons to their opposition by emphasizing their challenges and asking for help in solving them (Price-Anderson insurance and waste storage come to mind.)
5. Elimination of possible alternative coolants, fuels, and markets by focus on a particular technology – light water reactors.
6. Project finance rather than corporate finance.
7. Acceptance by the industry and the government regulators of the Linear, No Threshold (LNT) model for low level radiation exposure despite all scientific evidence that shows that the model is WRONG.
Any one of the above might be good discussion topics. Feel free to provide your comments, thoughts and additions to the list.