Conveyor Belt Project Part 2
Nuclear energy has persisted to be an especially controversial topic due to issues concerning safety, efficiency, and cost. The very word, “nuclear” prompts the public to think of nuclear bombs. However, it may be possible for nuclear energy to be a feasible substitute to our existing energy sources. Positive Aspects of Nuclear Power
There are numerous advantages of nuclear power; the purity of the energy manufacturing process is one of them. While nuclear energy is not pollutant free, it also does not emit nearly the amount of pollutants as various fossil fuel energies. Nuclear power plants do not release air emissions, such as carbon dioxide, but the necessary process of mining for uranium does. This is, arguably, the most essential feature of substituting fossil fuels with nuclear power. The incineration of fossil fuels has greatly contributed to the global warming problems we are having today. In 2010 alone, approximately 5,800 million metric tons of carbon dioxide was released into the atmosphere. (EPA, 2010.) Nuclear power can assist our modern society in continuing our lifestyles, while still relieving the atmosphere of the massive amount of pollutants that are bequeathed on to it consistently.
Uranium is the element that is used to operate nuclear reactors, and it is additionally a common metal that is frequently found in rocks. Such extensive availability means that we can maintain a sustainable society that is primarily based on nuclear power. Uranium is significantly more efficient than fossil fuels as it is, and as technology progresses, the use of nuclear reactors to contract energy from uranium is expected to grow more efficient.
Globally substituting fossil fuels with nuclear power and additional renewable energies can also be incredibly beneficial to the economy. The law of supply and demand informs us that because the supply of power will increase dramatically, the price of power will decrease dramatically. The initial price of constructing a nuclear power plant is great, but the managing expenditures are relatively low, pushing the price of power even lower than they would be from the supply merely increasing. This ensures that citizens of more developed countries will keep the electricity that aid in completing their day-to-day responsibilities. Low-priced power will provide consumers with spare money to spend on a variety of products, such as food and luxuries, this will create additional jobs and will help narrow the gap between the underprivileged and the prosperous. This can also help less developed countries become more industrialized, it will produce jobs, and it will reduce the poverty rate.
Nuclear energy is one of the few renewable energy sources that can provide power regardless of what the weather is doing. For example, if you desire to use tidal energy you must have tides, and if you desire to use wind energy you must have wind. This is a crucial point in the argument for nuclear power because modern civilization cannot just cease because it is not windy outside.
Also unlike other renewable energy sources, such as hydropower and wind energy, nuclear energy is capable of generating power for substantial, industrial use. Additional renewable energy sources can only provide power for local needs. Nuclear energy has demonstrated that it can be just as efficient, if not more efficient, than fossil fuels. Worldwide, there are about 400 nuclear power plants that provide about 17% of the world’s energy. (EPA, 2012.) In the United States alone there was 535,951 oil producing wells in the year 2011. (World Oil, 2012.) So, why have we not replaced fossil fuels with nuclear energy yet? Negative Aspects of Nuclear Power
The biggest concern with nuclear power is for the well-being of the employees and the citizens living in close proximity to power plants. While the design of nuclear reactors is constructed to contain any explosion or accident, simple human inaccuracy can be catastrophic to both the individuals, and the environment surrounding the plant. Be that as it may, there have only been three significant accidents in the history of nuclear power; Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, and Fukushima. Of these three, the only plant that directly killed anyone was Chernobyl. (World Nuclear Association, 2012.) However, any number of deaths are still unacceptable and employees should be required to receive more training on safety procedures.
The safety of the labor force and individuals that reside near the plant can be an even larger difficulty when it comes to nuclear proliferation and the intimidation of terrorist attacks. For example, if a terrorist group were to attack a nuclear power plant, the harmful consequences would be much more widespread and destructive. This opens the United States up to attack that could, potentially be larger and crueler than September 11.
Another concern is the primary cost of constructing a nuclear power plant, which costs a minimum of $12 billion. (Anon, 2011.) This considerable start-up price discourages potential investors from offering any money, making it problematic to build the plant whatsoever. Even though investors will make their money back and more, it would require an extensive period of time to do so, therefore the money could be better invested somewhere else. Bearing in mind the colossal amount of debt that the United States government is in presently, it is difficult for government officials to approve this manner of spending without fear of losing their positions, even though it is for a good reason. And without government assistance, it might be impossible to come up with a minimum of $12 billion.
While the environment will be better off in terms of carbon emissions, the same cannot be expressed about nuclear waste. Nuclear waste is extremely dangerous and, if not disposed of appropriately, it can be poisonous to the earth and the individuals that come near the waste. The United States does not currently possess any sort of nuclear waste facility, and power plants are being instructed to accumulate their nuclear waste on site. This can be a somewhat large obstruction, because sooner or later there will be nowhere left to store this waste, and it can remain dangerous for several thousands of years.
In general, no matter what the advantages and disadvantages of nuclear power are, the public will always be against it. Nuclear power is closely related to nuclear weapons, and the advancement of nuclear technology is undesirable. Many people believe that nuclear war will eventually be the end of humanity; the time may come when World War 3 ensues and all of the countries bomb each other into extinction. I believe that this is the main reason that nuclear energy is not being more widely used, and even shunned. German Environment Minister Peter Altmaier even went so far as to announce that, “his country would never return to nuclear energy.” (book?) What I Think
The advantages of a healthier environment, uranium availability, energy stability, the probability of progressive technology, and the economic benefits outweigh the disadvantages of safety, cost, and nuclear waste in my opinion. But I also believe that we can increase the advantages and decrease the disadvantages by using other renewable energy sources to their full extent before falling back on nuclear energy.
Most of the disadvantages of other renewable energy sources can be diminished by simply having other options.