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Anjani Trivedi

This Is What a Nuclear-Powered Future Might Look Like

Pressure is rising to find alternative energy sources before a looming electricity crunch hurts both consumers and manufacturers. South Korea may have the answer.

Not just a pipe dream.

Not just a pipe dream.

Photographer: Clement Mahoudeau/AFP/Getty Images

It’s time to get realistic about the worsening energy situation. A power shortage is approaching and few alternatives to bridge the green transition exist right now. Nuclear is re-emerging as a front-runner, as are doubts and skepticism around its safety as memories of past accidents loom large along with haunting images of mushroom clouds. South Korea, though, shows why nuclear isn’t just a pipe dream — or a fuel to fear.

The country’s worries — like those of many others — aren’t just people feeling cold this winter, or rising prices. It’s the lack of electricity that will ultimately hamper everything from industrial production of goods and food to electric vehicles and the infrastructure to charge them — industries account for over half of the nation’s consumption. South Korean firms that supply high-tech goods to the rest of the world, including cars, batteries and chips, seem to have come to that realization. These energy-intensive sectors won’t run on wind, solar and biofuels alone because the actual capacity just isn’t enough and for large-scale operations, it isn’t consistent. If power starts becoming an issue, so will their profits and global technological heft.