Elon Musk says he is “an advocate of nuclear power” and “surprised by public opinion” that is against it

Tesla boss Elon Musk in Germany. Michele Tantussi / Reuters

  • Elon Musk said he was an advocate for nuclear power and was “surprised” by the public backlash.

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

  • Musk cited Germany’s denuclearization efforts, which resulted in an increase in dirtier coal-fired power plants.

  • Check out Insider’s business page for more stories.

Elon Musk, Tesla CEO, said Tuesday that he was an advocate for nuclear power and “surprised by public opinion against nuclear power”.

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

Musk pointed to Germany’s urge to shut down its nuclear power plants, which has forced the country to rely more on coal-fired power plants. Research published last year showed that Germany’s coal-fired power plants ultimately led to spikes in carbon dioxide emissions and pollution, which likely killed an additional 1,100 people.

“I don’t think that was the right decision,” said Musk about Germany’s actions.

Musk’s comments came in response to a question about the increased energy demands that could come with switching to electric vehicles. Despite his support for nuclear power, Musk said that meeting this increased demand will depend on “major developments in sustainable power generation, mainly wind and solar”.

While utilities need to increase their production capacity, there is only so much they can do because power lines also have limited capacity to distribute power to homes and businesses, he added.

“So I think it’s very important that a necessary part of the solution is local power generation,” said Musk, referring to Tesla Energy’s solar roof and battery products.

However, customers have complained about the expensive solar panels and nightmarish customer service, suggesting that Tesla’s solution to the problem still has a long way to go.

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