Let me open this column by saying the irony isn't lost on me. But the sociopolitical ties between this week's development and the atomic weapons dropped on Japan 61 years ago are a bit too sensitive for me to make light of them. So, yes, I see the connection, but no, there will be no humor in today's column.

With that out of the way, the news out of London and Tokyo today is too big to ignore. On Wednesday, Japan's consumer electronics powerhouse, Toshiba, announced that it is acquiring a 77% stake in Westinghouse Electric Company -- more than half again as much as it had originally intended to take. As previously reported, Toshiba won the bid to buy Westinghouse Electric out from under the U.K.'s British Nuclear Fuels for a total purchase price of $5.4 billion. The original plan was to take a 51% controlling interest in the nuclear power firm, and divide up the remaining 49% among two or more co-buyers holding significant stakes of their own.

As it turns out, there will still be two other co-buyers, but only one of them will take a significant stake: U.S. engineering firm Shaw Group (NYSE:SGR), at 20%. The remaining 3% interest in Westinghouse will go to Japanese heavy-equipment maker Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries (IHHI). Price-wise, IHHI will pay a bit less than $200,000, Shaw will ante up about $1.1 billion, and Toshiba will pay the lion's share of the winning bid, at nearly $4.2 billion.

That's a hefty tab sitting on Toshiba's plate, and it prompted Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) to downgrade Toshiba's stock when the news broke -- perhaps on concern that the necessary debt financing will be too heavy for Toshiba to bear, or perhaps on worries that the stock price will fall if the company floats additional stock to raise the cash necessary to pay for its stake. For its part, Toshiba remains open to the possibility of bringing additional investors into its consortium to help share the cost. The two leading U.S. contenders for this role, however, Fluor (NYSE:FLR) and GE (NYSE:GE), no longer appear to be interested.

As a result, at this point in time it looks like Toshiba has become the dominant force in nuclear reactor construction worldwide. The firm currently holds a 35% market share in Japan. Its controlling stake of Westinghouse Electric will now give it a 28% share in the global market. Investors who fear that the recent slide in the price of oil will be short-lived, who are perhaps inspired by China's plans to build as many as 40 nuclear reactors over the next 15 years, might want to give Toshiba a serious look as one of the few "alternative energy" plays that we know can actually work.

Ready to energize your portfolio? Read up on the opportunities in:

Check out our suite of investing newsletters with a 30-day free trial.

Fool contributor Rich Smith does not own shares of any company named above. The Fool has a disclosure policy.