Elon Musk says he is a ‘pro-nuclear’ power and is ‘surprised by some of the public sentiment’ against it


Tesla CEO Elon Musk in Germany. Michèle Tantussi / Reuters

  • Elon Musk said Tuesday he was “surprised” by the public reaction against nuclear power.

  • Musk opposes building new nuclear power plants, but said safe plants should continue to operate.

  • Musk cited Germany’s denuclearization effort, which caused a rise in dirtier coal-fired power plants.

  • See more stories on the Insider business page.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said on Tuesday he was a supporter of nuclear power and was “surprised by some of the public sentiment against nuclear.”

“I’m not saying we should build a whole bunch of nuclear power plants, but I don’t think we should shut down the ones that are operating safely,” Musk said at the Code Conference in Los Angeles.

Musk highlighted the pressure from Germany to dismantle its nuclear power plants, which he said has forced the country to rely more on coal-fired power plants. Research published last year concluded that German nuclear power was being replaced primarily by sources such as coal-fired power plants and estimated that increased pollution was most likely causing 1,100 deaths per year.

“I don’t think this is the right decision,” Musk said of Germany’s approach.

Musk’s comments came in response to a question about the growing demand for energy that could accompany the shift to electric vehicles. Despite his support for nuclear power, Musk said meeting this increased demand would depend “on major developments in sustainable electricity generation, primarily wind and solar.”

While utilities will need to increase their generation capacity, there is little they can do as power lines also have limited capacity to deliver electricity to homes and businesses, he added.

“That’s why I think it’s actually very important that a necessary part of the solution is local power generation,” said Musk, plugging in the solar roof and battery products from Tesla Energy.

Customers have complained about the cost of these solar panels, however, and told stories of nightmarish customer service.

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