We cannot fully endorse everything that puts nuclear energy in a favorable light:
It isn't hard to see the one energy source that's grown lockstep with South Korea's economic ascension...It's not true that no U.S. plants went online after 1977, but the point here is that the author overloads nuclear energy with responsibility for South Korea’s phenomenal economic growth. It is electricity itself that should receive that credit because it allowed the country to industrialize. (70 percent of electricity generation there is not nuclear-based, after all.)
The country built its first nuclear power plant in 1977. Its rise to economic powerhouse began in 1980.
Today nuclear accounts for 30% of generation, but because of its high reliability, it accounts for 45% of the country's total electric consumption.
Since that first reactor in the late seventies, South Korea has built 22 more. The United States hasn't built any.
(The U.S. ranks 26th in Internet connectivity and has no high-speed rail. You decide if there's correlation.)
Korea plans to bring 11 more reactors online between now and 2021, bringing nuclear's share of electric generation up to 60%.
Electricity generation is indeed a key to growth for developing nations – South Korea then, other countries now. Alex Flint, NEI’s senior vice president for governmental affairs, speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in April, explained it exceptionally well, insisting on a moral dimension that gives the argument considerable force.
“The earth has 7 billion people on it,” Flint said. “Today, 2 billion of those people’s principal source of energy is burning firewood or dung. More than 1 billion people have no access to electricity, and non-OECD electricity growth will far surpass that of OECD countries for several generations.
“As we see population growth in those countries,” he continued, “we will see tremendous demand for electricity and energy of all sorts. It’s a moral imperative. There is a correlation between life expectancy and access to electricity. I believe politicians who do not provide sufficient energy for their growing economies and populations will face political peril.
“As a result we are going to see energy deployed around the world principally based upon its cost and availability, and other considerations like the environment will be secondary in most of the world.
Flint concluded, “In that world, I see a tremendous need for baseload electricity. I think nuclear energy will provide a substantial amount of that.”