Nuclear Energy Essays Examples
Nuclear power energy provides more than 16% of the global power needs, until 2009 there were 437 nuclear power plants mostly in the developed countries. While the countries in Asia and Russia are investing heavily in setting up nuclear power plants, however in US the focus is on extending the capabilities. Nuclear energy plays not only an important part in sustainable energy sources but it can also solve the air pollution issues too as it does not release greenhouse gases.
It is believed that nuclear energy can play a vital role in providing carbon-free based electricity and can be a dependable source for large metropolitan cities. As the urban population is increasing globally significantly and it is estimated that by 2050 it will increase by 67% according to report by World Bank. Even if energy conservation targets are achieved the electricity and power generation demands will grow globally and the need of a clean, safe and reliable energy source will be undeniable.
This paper will look into the advantages of nuclear energy in provision of clean and dependable energy sources and that nuclear energy is the safest form of pollution free energy source that will play a major role in sustainable development of the urban areas. However, a lot of concern is associated with the setting up of nuclear plants due to the risks of radioactive waste and leak jeopardizing the surrounding natural and man-made environment
Balanced greenhouse gases effect is mandatory to keep the earth’s atmosphere moderate for the survival of the inhabitants. A large percentage of these greenhouse gases come from the fossil fuels that is utilized as energy source to generate electricity, as power source for factories and fuel for vehicles and for domestic use. But as the world population is increasing at a significant rate and the need for energy sources is also increasing thus the need of an alternate energy source is needed more than ever. The conventional energy sources such as Fossil fuel sources- coal, oil and natural gas have been consumed and are believed to be exhausted within the current century.
Though the coal consumption was stable before 2000, however ever since the formation of WTO and simplified trade policies the manufacturing industry in Asia has been thrusting and as a result the energy consumption has increased exponentially. Stats show that the consumption of oil has reached 30 gigajoules per capita per year and that for 25 gigajoules per capita per year while that for nuclear energy has only reached about 5 gigajoules per capita per year until 2000.
This trend is seen to continue as the world population is also increasing by 90 million people added every year. Thus by 2030 these source might be scant. The changes in the economic and technological trends has put electricity as a vital need everywhere in the world. The generation of electricity through these sources accounts for about 40% to the total energy production. The flexible and dependable nature of electricity predicts its consumption to rise from 16% in 2002 to 20% until 2030. Even with developed and functional plants, 40% generation of electricity is provided by coal while only 13.5% by the nuclear energy. The electricity generation through the conventional methods gives out about 9.5 billion tonnes per year of carbon dioxide, which accounts for 40% of the human induced greenhouse gases effects. Carbon dioxide is one of the key elements in greenhouse gases. A typical coal based 1000 megawatt electricity power station requires almost 3.2 million tonnes of coal in a year that is 4500 million tonnes of coal each year to generate only 40% of the electricity. To generate this electricity coal is burned at about 8.15 MJ/kg with 9.3 million tonnes of fuel. Considering the fuel requirements and increase in greenhouse gases due to the production of carbon dioxide and other harmful by products that pollute the air implies to the fact that in near future people will be challenged by the health of the planet with the fulfillment of the energy sources.
In comparison to the huge amount of fuel requirements for coal and other natural sources, nuclear energy plants have a very simple and limited requirement for fuel. A standard 1000 megawatts nuclear power station needs only 27 tonnes of fresh fuel per year that is only 74 kg per day, while a power station 8600 tonnes of black coal each day.
The harmful effects of current energy sources can be seen by the fact that every year the emission of carbon dioxide is about 28 billion tonnes a year that is produced by the burning of coal ( 38%),gas(21%) and from oil (41% ). In addition to carbon dioxide to pollute air and increase greenhouse effects, these energy sources also produce several hundred tonnes of toxic materials and heavy metals including vanadium, cadmium ,arsenic ,lead, and mercury that pollutes water and is harmful for the health of anyone in direct contact.
On the contrary, nuclear energy is considered clean due to the fact that it can control carbon emission and other hazardous emissions as shown by the graph below based on the report by US energy information association. It is believed the nuclear energy plants can limit carbon emission and greenhouse effects thus can control the air and water pollution significantly.
Nuclear energy industry is very strictly regulated to ensure complete protection for the employees of these plants. Though some believe that people in the vicinity of these power plants might be exposed to radiations, however in reality the nuclear power plants are one of the most safest places to work and the workers are exposed to negligible amount of radiations that rules out its harmful health effects.
In comparison to several hundred tonnes of coal required to produce required energy such as electricity for a cosmopolitan city, single uranium pellet that is about the size of a coin can contain energy equivalent to 807 kilograms of coal or 149 gallons of oil. To supply dependable carbon free base load electricity to a city like Chicago that consumes approximately 85 billion kilowatt hours of electricity every year can be served by 10 nuclear reactors each with 1000 megawatts. The difference in the power density of nuclear energy makes it more sustainable for the development.
This implies to the fact that since less amount of uranium is required thus the industry can sustain for a longer period of time as compared to the conventional sources that are predicted to be exhausted soon. According to American Nuclear Society, the resources required by Nuclear energy plants are expected to fulfill about 250 years of consuming the generated energy. In addition, recycling of uranium and plutonium, the main source of nuclear energy plants can further extend the supply up to 10000 years.
As an initial investment nuclear power plants cost more than coal or gas based power plants. However in the long run the low cost fuel sources and efficient processing will lower the cost of operations. Even with all the advantages it can add to sustainable energy sources there is a lot of concern on setting up a nuclear energy plant due to the possibilities of radioactive waste disposal and possible consequences for the surroundings. Apart from the investment, a nuclear power plant cannot be setup in a similar way as any other power plant as it observed that often there is a threat of plant emissions in the neighborhood of such plants especially if the plants consume the contaminated water as a heat sink. Even though the nuclear plat fuel consumption might be low in comparison to others, however it produces a huge amount of radioactive waste that sits for good period of time until it can be utilized and can have serious hazardous impacts on the surrounding environment.
The world is changing, the increasing populations, more sources of energy and the need of a clean and dependable energy source is the ultimate goal. Though nuclear energy is currently being used as an electricity generation source however its usage is less than others. The natural fuel sources such as the coal and gas might become scarce in some years due to the huge amount of the these sources required however the basic needs of a nuclear power plant are less as compared to them. Though the initial investment might be high, the successive years will lower the cost of operations and production.
Nuclear energy is clean and safe as it limits and does not produce greenhouse gases that is affecting the atmosphere greatly.it is believed that nuclear energy can control air and water population. Along with all the advantages, the high concern of the radioactive leaks in the surroundings of the plant raises a lot of questions, there have been cases of plant emission and radiation leaks and there always is a possibility of the same.
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