Nuclear Energy – An Undying Debate Essay Samples
Humans are intelligent beings. They have adopted our environment to improve our lives. As they have gained knowledge, they have continually expanded the methods to tap the environment. As a result, the energies sources they have been using have been evolving and improving from stage to stage. First, it was fire and wood then coal. Thereafter, it was gas and oil. The latest stage is nuclear energy.
Nuclear energy has a set of features that no other known source of power can compete with. Nuclear energy can easily supply high demands with low operational cost and low gas emission. However, nuclear energy has drawbacks in terms of safety and security of nuclear power. As a result, despite it being decades since humanity started using nuclear power as a form of energy, the debate still rages on whether we should use it or not. The debate has recently gathered momentum after the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan.
Over a period of time, organizations have been founded that support the opposite ends of the spectrum on the issue of support to nuclear energy. Greenpeace Organization and The World Nuclear Association are members of theses two camps, where one attacks nuclear energy and other defends it. While both these organizations could be considered to be enemies, the fact remains that both were founded with a vision of improving and stabilizing the human race. Therefore, while their perspectives may differ, it is possible to arrive at a common ground between them.
Against Nuclear Energy: Greenpeace
Greenpeace is an organization whose concerns are all about the environment. Greenpeace relies on its members’ momentum to force governments to take environmental facets into account. The organization’s goal is the “ensure the ability of the earth to nurture life in all its diversity” (“Our Core Values”). As part of its goal, Greenpeace considers nuclear power to be inimical for sustainable and safe development in the world and is a staunch activist against nuclear energy. The organization can be seen as an important factor in closing down some nuclear energy plants in France and in nudging Germany towards abandoning its nuclear program within 25 years plan.
Greenpeace opposes nuclear energy on multiple counts. It avers that nuclear energy is “an expensive diversion” from the real task of developing renewable energy. Greenpeace believes that carbon emissions could be reduced more cheaply and effectively using renewable energy as opposed to nuclear energy. It highlights the fact that there are no solutions existing to deal with the problem of radioactive waste. It fears that expanding nuclear power would increase the risks form terrorism and nuclear weapons proliferation. It also points out that the time required to build nuclear power plants is immense, and as such, nuclear power plants cannot be built in time to make a significant difference to the energy deficit facing the world’s growing population (“Climate Change-Nuclear Not the Answer”).
For Nuclear Energy: World Nuclear Association
The World Nuclear Association (WNA) defines itself as “the international organization that promotes nuclear energy and supports the many companies that comprise the global nuclear industry” (“Our Mission”). The association is highly valued for its information library that is a "base-load" of comprehensive, accurate information on nuclear energy. Moreover, the association helps in providing a global forum for sharing knowledge and evolving the nuclear industry. Also it tries to improve the nuclear industry operational capabilities by advancing best practices internationally. The organization provides online news on developments related to nuclear power, providing value to journalists, analysts and industry experts through its subsidiary, the World Nuclear News (WNN).
WNA argues that nuclear energy can supply energy for the world’s electricity with less greenhouse effect than any other energy source (“Uranium, Electricity and Climate Change”). While acknowledging the attractiveness of renewable energy, WNA points out that there remain challenges in harnessing renewable energy. The demand for resources for producing renewable energy is much more than that required for nuclear energy. Currently, the cost per peak kilowatt is lower for nuclear energy than any form of renewable energy. Even if electricity were to be generated using renewable energy, there would be a need to have a backup generating capacity owing to the intermittent nature of renewable energy. Using solar and wind-generated electricity in a standalone mode would require huge storage capacities of batteries, which would have their own attendant environmental risks. Therefore, the WNA argues that large-scale use of nuclear energy would complement the use of renewable energy by being the backbone of “base-load” electricity supply (“Renewable Energy and Electricity”).
Finding Common Ground
While the stance of Greenpeace and WNA appear contradictory on the issue of nuclear energy, there could be creative methods of finding common ground between the two viewpoints.
Research for Sustainable Renewable Energy Models. While Greenpeace advocates renewable energy as the way forward to solve the earth’s problems, it cannot avoid the fact that renewable energy is costlier and not self-sustainable at the moment. More research needs to be done to reach a situation where renewable energy becomes reliable as a standalone source of energy. It could be possible for the nuclear industry, led by WNA, to channel funds for research into finding long-lasting solutions to sustainable renewable energy.
Base-Load Synergy. Even after renewable energy becomes cost effective, its intermittent nature would remain. There would remain a need for an alternate source of energy to provide the base load power. Therefore, a partnership could be created with nuclear energy, so that nuclear energy provides the base load and the balance is supplied by renewable energy.
Safety. One of the biggest points of opposition from Greenpeace against nuclear energy is the safety of nuclear power plants. To accommodate this concern, WNA could lead initiatives to find safer techniques for producing nuclear energy. A more comprehensive framework of protocols to ensure that nuclear power plants do not fall into the hands of terrorists could also assuage Greenpeace.
Use of Thorium. WNA could advocate the use of thorium for nuclear power. Nuclear plants running on thorium could be instantly shut down by cutting off the supply of neutrons, as opposed to plants running on uranium that depend on inserting nuclear absorbing material into the core. Thus, thorium plants would not have the danger of overheating. Thorium plants would generate much lesser nuclear waste as compared to uranium plants. Thorium is much harder to be converted into nuclear bombs, and hence thorium plants would suffer from lesser security risks (Warmflush). Thus, if thorium plants came up, Greenpeace would have lesser objections to nuclear energy as a complement to renewable energy as a means to reduce greenhouse gases and to provide sustainable energy to the world.
Both Greenpeace and the World Nuclear Association are interested in a sustainable future for the earth. The two organizations need to be aware of the challenges facing renewable energy and nuclear energy at this point of time. While renewable energy is intermittent and requires a base-load partner, nuclear power plants need to be safer. A way forward of collaboration between renewable energy and nuclear energy is possible with research into both forms of energy. If renewable energy were to be generated with smaller footprints and the base load were to be provided by thorium plants, the goals of both Greenpeace and the World Nuclear Association would be met in a complementary fashion.
Greenpeace. “Our Core Values.” Greenpeace.org. n.d. Web. March 01, 2015.
Greenpeace. “Climate Change: Nuclear not the Answer.” Greenpeace.org. n.d. Web. March 01, 2015.
Warmflush, David. “Thorium Power is the Safer Future of Nuclear Energy.” Blogs.DiscoverMagazine.com. January 16, 2015. Web. March 01, 2015.
World Nuclear Association. “Our Mission.” World-Nuclear.org. n.d. Web. March 01, 2015.
World Nuclear Association. “Uranium, electricity, and Climate Change.” World-Nuclear.org. n.d. Web. March 01, 2015.
World Nuclear Association. “Renewable Energy and Electricity.” World-Nuclear.org. n.d. Web. March 01, 2015.
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