When you encounter the term “nuclear energy,” you may conjure images of a radioactive nucleus, a scorching power station, or even nuclear weapons like the one unleashed on Nagasaki.
While all these are realistic depictions of nuclear energy, they all have negative ramifications.
Nuclear fission generates enormous amounts of energy, which we have learned how to turn into electricity to charge our homes and companies.
Nuclear fission is so strong that 10 grams of uranium (the nuclear fuel) produces enough energy to power 1 ton of coal, 149 gallons of oil, or 17,000 cubic feet of natural gas.
Furthermore, unlike natural gas and coal, it produces no greenhouse gas emissions when producing power.
The 2017 BP Statistical Review of World Energy shows that nuclear energy accounts for around 4.7% of the global energy budget.
Nuclear power, though potentially becoming future energy, has received a poor portrayal as a controversial energy source.
There are profound implications if a nuclear energy plant fails, but there are also several advantages to using this reliable source.
Nuclear energy technology is seen as extremely beneficial and highly contentious.
As scientists and world leaders struggle to find the best ways to generate green power in the following years, it is critical to grasp the nuclear energy pros and cons.
Table of Contents
Pros of Nuclear Energy
In this segment, we will become familiar with the five essential advantages of using nuclear energy and broaden our understanding of this area.
1. Low Carbon Emission (Lower environmental impact)
The fact that nuclear energy produces zero carbon emissions is perhaps its most appealing feature.
A ton of kinetic energy is released when a uranium atom is broken apart.
In turn, the energy heats the water and produces steam, which powers the turbines that generate energy.
Nuclear power reactors have less methane and carbon dioxide emissions than fossil fuels like coal power plants.
The World Nuclear Association, a group for nuclear advocates, discovered the emission of 29 tonnes of carbon dioxide/gigawatt hour (GWh) of produced energy.
This corresponds well to energy generation from solar energy plants (85 tonnes per GWh), fossil fuels such as lignite (1,054 tonnes per GWh), and coal plant (888 tonnes per GWh).
Nuclear generates nearly the same or fewer emissions than renewable energy sources such as solar and wind energy production.
2. Inexpensive Power Sources
Nuclear energy is also a reasonably inexpensive fuel than other sources of power.
It has a far lower unit price than alternative energies such as solar or wind, as well as traditional energies derived from fossil fuels such as coal.
Nuclear energy is much more proficient in substance input to energy output ratio.
Running nuclear power plants makes it feasible to provide affordable electricity to the general population on a wide scale.
One of the other advantages of nuclear power is that it is less susceptible to cost inflation than traditional energy sources, which change over time.
Low-cost energy may be forecast for the foreseeable future. As technology advances, the cost of power will remain low, if not fall much more.
3. Reliable and Efficient Energy source
While specific energy alternatives, such as solar and wind power, are affected by weather conditions, nuclear facilities are not.
There will be less energy insecurity as it is the same even when there is no breeze or the day is overcast.
External environmental conditions primarily affect nuclear power facilities, producing predictable and consistent energy output.
A nuclear power plant can produce electricity continuously for a whole year, allowing for the best return on investment without production delays.
The world has enough uranium reserves to generate electricity for 70-80 years. A dependable source of energy!
While that may not seem like an extended period, it is longer than many fossil fuels are expected to survive.
Thus, alternative nuclear energy sources are being investigated in nuclear power plants.
4. High Energy Density
Nuclear fission can generate 10 million times more energy than burning fossil fuels.
The input needed in a nuclear power plant is far less than that of other power plants like solar power plants. This contributes to nuclear energy’s low cost.
A single nuclear power station can contribute to thousands of kilowatt hours of electricity production. Nuclear technology has a very high fuel-to-power output ratio.
It can meet metropolitan and industrial demands with a single reactor, much alone numerous.
A tiny amount of uranium may be utilized to power a 1000 Megawatt electric plant, producing enough electricity to run a city of around 500,000 people.
5. Local Job Creation
With the employment and income opportunities delivered by a new nuclear plant, nuclear power gives several economic advantages.
For example, nuclear power facilities and their accompanying infrastructure employ hundreds, if not thousands, of people.
Thus, particularly in areas with high unemployment, the development of nuclear power facilities can dramatically enhance the local inhabitants’ general living and working circumstances.
They also supply billions of dollars to regional economies annually through federal and state tax income.
Cons of Nuclear Energy
Nuclear energy has certain drawbacks, from construction costs to the severe impact on our living environment.
Let us take an in-depth look at some of the most severe negative consequences of nuclear energy in our life.
1. Construction Costs
Although the expenses per unit of energy produced by nuclear power are meager, the initial building costs of nuclear power plants are considerably high.
Building a nuclear power plant may cost billions of dollars. These expenses will be amortized over the lifespan of a nuclear power plant, particularly in poor developing countries.
The high initial costs may be prohibitively expensive for local municipalities, leading them to decide against building a nuclear power plant even if it would benefit the local economy and people in the long term.
2. Generation Of Radioactive Waste
While nuclear power production emits no emissions, a byproduct of radioactive waste is created.
The remnant of radioactive fuel must be kept in secure facilities to avoid damaging the environment.
Radiation is not toxic in tiny doses, but radioactive material from nuclear power plants is.
Radioactive waste storage is a significant challenge and expense for nuclear power facilities.
Nuclear waste cannot be destroyed; the only current alternative is to enclose and store it in deep underground vaults.
As technology advances, experts should develop better methods of storing radioactive waste shortly.
3. Water Pollution And Usage
Nuclear energy and uranium mining have the potential to pollute groundwater if facilities do not adequately retain their leftovers.
The procedure by which employees cool the water in a plant’s condenser can produce thermal pollution in surrounding reservoirs.
This reduces dissolved oxygen levels, leading to algae blooms, hypoxic dead zones, and the starvation and death of marine species such as fish and corals.
Furthermore, nuclear power facilities require massive volumes of water to function. Nuclear power accounted for 41% of freshwater withdrawals in the United States.
4. Nuclear Accidents
There has been a slew of significant nuclear reactor mishaps since 1952. In Kyshtym, Russia, an accident led to incorrectly treated trash exploding.
In Chornobyl, Ukraine, insufficiently qualified personnel triggered an explosion.
Around 50 individuals died from severe radiation sickness after the initial explosion at Chornobyl.
Following an earthquake and tsunami in 2011, a nuclear plant exploded in Fukushima, Japan, which discharged large volumes of radioactive material into the environment.
The number of casualties and diseases caused by a nuclear disaster have devastating effects, and no one is permitted to dwell in the neighborhoods.
Long-term radiation exposure can be extremely harmful as it raises the likelihood that people may acquire cancer.
5. Uranium Is Finite
Renewable resources like the sun, water, and wind have an unlimited supply.
But, nuclear energy is not a renewable source of energy. Like other forms of energy, uranium is scarce and only found in a few nations.
Uranium is now plentiful but in limited supply. There is still the possibility of drying out.
To create energy, uranium must be mined, synthesized, and activated, which is costly.
In the wrong hands, the impact caused by a nuclear bomb will be more critical than any natural disaster you have ever heard of.
It generates dangerous waste throughout these actions, leading to environmental pollution and significant health consequences if not managed appropriately.
Summary (pros and cons of nuclear energy)
|Low Carbon Emission|
|Inexpensive Power Sources|
|High Energy Density|
|Local Job Creation|
|Generation Of Radioactive Waste|
|Water Pollution And Usage|
|Uranium Is Finite|
Individuals may wonder if they should use nuclear energy after weighing the benefits and drawbacks.
While this green energy has drawbacks, it has significantly reduced the greenhouse gas emissions humans would otherwise produce by consuming more fossil fuels.
While we can’t say if nuclear energy is good or evil, we do know that the energy industry’s future generation will be pretty intriguing.
(Last Updated on October 8, 2022)