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Bill Gates on why his nuclear energy hopes shifted from China to the US

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Bill Gates has long believed that nuclear energy is an important tool for reducing carbon emissions below levels that would be catastrophic to the planet. Microsoft’s cofounder in 2006 founded TerraPower, a startup developing next-generation nuclear reactors, and remains its chairman.

TerraPower had planned to build an experimental reactor in China, since China’s top-down government control and support for nuclear would enable it to happen faster than in the US. But the trade and political tensions between the US and China now make that unlikely, Gates conceded in a recent interview with Quartz. “It’s not likely that the US-China joint venture can survive the tumultuous nature of that relationship, because you need almost a decade of constant understanding that a large investment’s being made to create something that’s a global benefit,” Gates said.

In the video above, you can watch Gates discuss how he’s now focused on trying to reactivate US nuclear ambitions.

TerraPower had a deal with China National Nuclear Corp to build a trial reactor, but new US Department of Energy restrictions on US-China nuclear efforts are leading it to abandon that plan. Gates said in a year in review published at the end of 2018 that in 2019 he planned to “speak out more about how the US needs to regain its leading role in nuclear power research.”

Find other clips from our full interview with Bill Gates here: