Nuclear power: Energy Solution or Evil Curse?

The topic around the use of nuclear power as an alternative to producing electricity has been controversial since the biggest nuclear meltdown in 1986, Ukraine. However, the development of handling nuclear reactors has significantly improved over time and there has been increasing support favouring the use of nuclear energy. The 2011 Fukushima disaster, however may have unfortunately caused a change in opinion. Can nuclear energy be the future, or a mistake we should learn from?

group11pic1

For Nuclear Energy 

Nuclear energy is powerful and efficient

According to the International Energy Association (IEA), an increase of 30% in global energy consumption has been forecasted by 2040. Predominantly resulting from the rapid worldwide population growth and enhancement of the standards of living that have shifted towards a more greener economy. It is necessary to find alternatives to replace and reduce the reliance on fossil fuels due to their limited quantity and thus nuclear power is believed to be a potential substitute since it has been one of the most efficient sources of energy so far.

Nuclear power plants utilise low-cost Uranium 235 as fuels for producing electricity and only a small amount of uranium is required to generate sufficient amounts of energy. At least 17,000 ft3 of natural gas, 1780 pounds of coal or 149 gallons of oil are needed to produce the same amount of energy as one pellet of uranium. Moreover, apart from producing electricity, high-quality heat is generated during reaction processes which can be used in many other industrial practices including the desalination of saltwater and production of hydrogen for fuel cells. From the pragmatic point of view – emphasising an ideology or proposition is true if it works satisfactorily, in order to continue the path of human progress, a high-efficient energy producing method is required and nuclear power is exactly the solution.

Nuclear energy is clean and safe

Currently, there are 450 nuclear reactors operating in 30 countries globally and 60 reactors are currently under construction. Concerns about global warming and clean air are the reason for the increasing number of nuclear reactors. Nuclear energy can provide a large amount of electricity and is done so without polluting the air. In a life cycle of a facility (construction to operation), nuclear reactors produce energy comparable to that of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power in terms of carbon dioxide emission. This shows that nuclear energy can provide clean-air electricity as opposed to the conventional methods that use coal, oil and natural gas.

It is understandable that people may disagree as there is a possible risk of a reactor meltdown as proven in the past. It can be debated that since these risks have been carefully mitigated that nuclear energy is now a much safer alternative. The Chernobyl disaster in 1986 initiated the establishment of the World Association of Nuclear Operator that overseer the safety regulations and ensure that qualified workers are in the power plant. Causes of several nuclear meltdown disasters in the past were due to the unprofessional work ethics of workers and not from the operation of a nuclear power plant.

group11pic2

From the Consequentialism point of view- the consequences of one’s conduct are the ultimate basis for any judgment, in order to reduce carbon emission while meeting global electricity demand, nuclear energy plays a substantial role in achieving it.

Against Nuclear Energy

Nuclear waste

Nuclear power facilities account for approximately 200,000 m3 of low and intermediate-level radioactive waste, and about 10,000 m3 – 12,000 tonnes of high-level waste every year including the waste emanated from the used fuel.

The high-level waste (HLW) imposes a high class of danger that accounts for 95% of the total radioactivity produced during the generation of electricity. During reactor operations, highly radioactive fission products and transuranic elements from uranium and plutonium are produced. Although the volumes of waste are relatively low, the direct disposal of long lived radioactive materials  take about 300,000 years to reach its original state of radioactivity, and when aqueously reprocessed from uranium and plutonium, the material still takes about 9,000 years. HLW is initially stored at surface level for 40-50 years to ensure the nuclear decay and lowering of heat before further handling.

The management of nuclear waste falls under the responsibility of the IAEA and NED that aim to prevent the misuse of radioactive material and proliferation of nuclear weapons. The plan for nuclear waste storage is based on utilitarianism: where they have minimized the adverse effects through sealing the waste, solely reducing it to its technical aspects and therefore portraying the positives as a major contribution towards the common good of society. However, from an ‘intragenerational equity’ standpoint it is not justifiable to risk the well-being of others as well as the environment at the expense of the operation and construction of such facilities.

Future generation justice regarding nuclear energy development

As mentioned above, radioactive waste poses potential threats that may bear significant implications on our environment. In fact, nuclear waste disposal has always been a top priority concern for government agencies. Ironically, policy makers are utilitarian that take standpoints of this generation into account but not the future generation. It is conceivable that nuclear power stations have expanded excessivelyEven worse, radiation scientists haven’t figured out the solution to eliminate the adverse effects of radiation. Even if nuclear waste was put into a geological repository, they might emerge and threaten future generations. This clearly poses a huge threat to our future generation in the long term.

Considering the worst possible case scenario, natural disasters such as crustal deformation, tsunami, and earthquakes could demolish nuclear power stations and nuclear waste depositories as well as cause radiation leaks which will have significant repercussions on our future generation. Now, it’s time to face the facts: Mother Nature rules. There has been no way we can accurately predict natural disasters and provide safety precautions to avoid them, especially over the span of thousands of years. From an intergenerational ethical principle standpoint it is not morally justifiable to risk the human rights of our present and future generations. Accordingly, phasing out nuclear power is the safe answer.

Will the debate on nuclear energy ever come to an end? 

Group 11: Yu-Shan Wu, Basi Ng Jian, Yasmin Absel Mutalib, Tin-Hsun Hu

Advertisements

31 thoughts on “Nuclear power: Energy Solution or Evil Curse?

  1. There are both pros and cons on nuclear energy which are already stated in the article. In my opinion, further research needs to be done in order to reduce the environmental impact of nuclear energy if it leaks such as have an effective emergency plan. Regarding the nuclear waste, researchers can find a way to reuse the waste to reduce the environmental impact. If both these problems are tackled properly, nuclear energy will be the most effective and efficient source of energy

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nuclear energy has no place in a safe, clean, sustainable future. Nuclear energy is both expensive and dangerous, and just because nuclear pollution is invisible doesn’t mean it’s clean. Renewable energy is better for the environment, the economy, and doesn’t come with the risk of a nuclear meltdown

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Beyond the risks associated with nuclear power and radioactive waste, the threat of nuclear weapons looms large. The spread of nuclear technology and nuclear weapons is a threat for national security and the safety of the entire planet.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. For someone with little knowledge on nuclear, knowing that it can be an alternative source of energy, a sustainable source and environmentally safe is a great thing. However, with such amount of power means that it can be deadlier in a general point of view. Just the word nuclear can strike fear to simple mind such as myself. So, it is crucial that the authorities continues educate the people of it’s pros and cons, while ensuring that the nuclear power programs is properly controlled and monitored in term of it’s safety at all time.

    Like

  5. It is true that nuclear energy is far much more efficient as compared to mentioned sources of energy i.e. hydroelectric, coal and natural gas, however, it is not fair to neglect solar and wind energy which are both renewable forms of energy which have also been proven to have the potential to replace non-renewable sources of energy. Theoretically speaking solar and wind energy are comparable to nuclear energy in terms of the energy output. Moreover, the risk associated to solar and wind energy are far lesser as compared to nuclear energy. However, solar and wind energy are very much dependent on the sources of these energy i.e. solar and wind on the availability of sunlight and wind respectively. Hence, in my opinion, it is only fair to consider nuclear energy when there is no possibility for the implementation of solar and wind energy which embodies a lesser extent of risk.

    Like

  6. Costs of thermal power and nuclear are performed under different states. I thought there are no difference to choose anyone of them. In a long term plan, renewable Energy, distributed electric grids and power storage systems will replace the current generated method.

    Like

  7. I support the use of nuclear power.
    With progressive technology, the crisis caused by the explosion of nuclear reactors can be avoided, I think. Just some simple and personal opinions.

    Like

  8. I agree with nuclear energy .
    The electricity people needed increases more than before, and we need more efficient energy source(nuclear) instead of conventional energy.
    At the same time, we also need to estimate effects of nuclear energy and governments have to give right aspects to citizens.

    Like

  9. I think the question should be why we need that much of energy now and in the future and how we create all those needs. Using nuclear energy certainly is a solution of providing more and efficient energy but it’s not the ultimate answer for fullfilling our extra human needs. I think using it can only be the alternative way of how we can discover or invest another option of energy supply. Renewable energy is always my personal preference, take germany for example, where they’ve reached 95% use of renewable energy. But until then we still have to use nuclear energy, we can only hope the time comes faster.

    Like

  10. There’s no denying that nuclear energy is effective. However, looking at the current situation; the risk outweighs its benefit. It is true that conventional energy is slowly running out but still, it will last for years to come. And there are other energy (solar, wind, etc.) resources that had proven their effectiveness and they come with lesser risk. In my opinion, people shouldn’t be in total denial of nuclear energy. It can still be an alternative. Maybe in the future researchers would be able to tackle the risk and by then nuclear energy can be slowly be introduced to the public.

    Like

  11. For the progress of engineering improvements, it seems nuclear energy is a necessary evil. However governments have sometimes have lot more things to think about such as safety and political issues, I think just let people follow their own will to decide it or vote it.

    Like

  12. Seems to me that this article itself has decided on its own by outweighing its pros. My opinion is I wouldn’t use accidents as a weighing factor in terms of pros and cons as it all comes to human attitude/ethics. Planes exploded throughout the centuries but people still uses plane. Well, you get my point.

    In terms of energy consumption and the future generations, obviously unless experts figure out the ways to stabilize the radiation decay of produced waste into its original neutral states, I wouldn’t consider nuclear energy as a way forward for future generations despite the 30% increase of energy consumption. Not to mention waste disposal methods. Is it reliable? Is it guaranteed that it wouldn’t affect our Flora and Fauna? Imagine, radioactive fish. The list goes on and on.

    Renewable energy; as mentioned in the article, cost of carbon dioxide emission towards the construction doesn’t differ much. Solar, wind, tide, etc, have proven their eco-friendliness. What are the risk beyond construction costs? I believe it is significantly outweighing the consequences of nuclear.

    I suggest we look at energy production in an another angle. We all know Law of Conservation of Energy that energy can’t be created nor destroyed. It’s only being converted from one form to another. Having said that, don’t you think energy efficiency is a way to save the future? Compare car engines a decade ago and the present. Using a gallon of fuel, which travels more?
    One of the current example is piezoelectric concept. Imagine, you have a highway full of cars using solar powered, or whatever renewable energy that the world has come up today. Vibrations is constantly happening on the road. Briefly, piezoelectric plates are put beneath the road, harvesting the energy created by the vehicles on these vibrations. The question is, is it costly to do so? I believe that as engineering goes, cost will not be an issue. Take a look at Tesla new creation of Solar Roof Tiles. Stronger, cheaper, and efficient!

    What I’ve mentioned above are ways to look at energy at an another angle instead of choosing a new type of energy which creates more harm than good. Thus, I strongly disagree on the usage of nuclear as a clean energy.

    Like

  13. I might support using of nuclear power.
    On condition that there shall be well protective mechanism and well plan to the power-station for a rainy day, and To be sure anything which we can predict can be totally under control. On the other hand, well tackled the nuclear waste is needed as well. 🙂

    Like

  14. In my opinion, the risk certainly outweighs the benefit of using nuclear energy, given all the facts that we have currently. It’s not about how much energy it can produce, but how we can contain such great energy to use it for good. Plus, there’s other safer energy, i.e. renewable energy that are yet to be explored to its full potential. Issues such as safe disposal of radioactive waste and prevention of misuse need to be tackled accordingly. In terms of future prospect, nuclear energy does have the potential as long as the technology developed in the course of time can reduce the harm it brings to minimal effect.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. In the long term, it is important to find a new way to generate energy, because there are many problems caused by nuclear power. However, currently, using nuclear power is inevitable as the demand exist. And the cost-effectiveness of using nuclear power is higher comparing with other ways. My opinion is similar to Peter Lin. We do need to use nuclear energy, but it is also very crucial for us to find a more environmental friendly way to generate energy.

    Like

  16. In my opinion, nuclear power plant is a temporary expedient due to the consideration of nuclear waste and safty.
    There are many promising renewable energy sources, such as solar energy, wind energy and geothermal energy. I believe that these eco-friendly energy sources are the key of the furture development. So my point is that the government should support the renewable energy further to find a better alternative energy source.

    Like

  17. Nuclear power plant had already been built with more to come. Meaning the use of nuclear as energy source had already begun. All I can say is let’s hope for a better management and safety precaution to be implemented with every nuclear power plant, and that the effort really brings benefits to the people. So that the dream of a better future is not just another theoretical idea.

    Like

  18. There are two main energy source in my country. One is nuclear energy , the other is coal energy. In my country, people are divided into two parts, embrace the nuclear or not. In my opinion, nuclear energy is much more better. Coal energy caused pollution not only just carbon dioxide. PM 2.5 , acid rain ,even radioactivity. I think nuclear energy is better energy for the way we found the sustainable energy.

    Like

  19. The pros listed in this article makes it very tempting to cheer for working towards developing Nuclear Power Plant as a main source of energy. However, previous experience and incidents that resulted from uncontrolled radioactive wastes are hard to ignore. Radioactive waste resulting from Nuclear power plants have a very large half life which makes it impossible to control and manage wastes for future generation sake. Nuclear power plant is the easier alternative but is not the safer option

    Like

  20. In my country, the usage of nuclear is an issue as well that the politicians in Taiwan always aim to discuss whether using nuclear power or not.
    In my opinion, I do not agree that the nuclear energy is completely perfect and clean, but I still support using it for two reasons. Firstly, I believe that nuclear is not the best solution, yet there is no solutions without nuclear. Secondly, it is reported that 13% of the world’s electricity comes from nuclear power plants that emit little to no greenhouse gases. It means nuclear power can supply massive needs of energy, and moreover nuclear is cleaner compared to the other power.

    Like

  21. I support using nuclear power. I truly believe that nuclear energy can help human being reduce pollution and make the environment much cleaner if using it in a safe way. Currently the demand of energy is increasing significantly due to industry development, nuclear power will be a good choice to our environment.

    Like

  22. I guess it’s a balance of ensuring that we have sufficient energy for the world population growth and managing the nuclear technology with utmost seriousness through world class engineering. It’s been 25 years between the 2 disaster related to nuclear incident. It’s the responsibility of the future generation to ensure that the disaster doesn’t happen again whilst continuing the nuclear energy journey.

    Like

  23. For me i guess it depends on how big your county is and how much load is urgently needed compare to the risk taking to operate the nuclear power plant. This is why some countries are still not using nuclear power plant. But i do belive somewhere in the far future, nuclear power plant should be reliably safe to operate but just not that soon yet.

    Like

  24. Whilst the demand may be significant in the years to come, it is important that we select the most sustainable and the safest option. Energy companies have started doing their research years ago and perhaps it is also time that the general public do their part in understanding the implications today – be it Nuclear or alternative energies. The energy and environment today, for tomorrow’s future and beyond.

    Like

  25. Nuclear energy can be a solution but let’s hope it is fully ready to be use in this era. This blog shares good info regarding the pros and cons.keep up the good work with more information to be shared.

    Like

  26. Agree with Peter’s comment… depending on the country. If the country can be responsible and put safety in their operations first then by all means why not nuclear energy. But countries with bribery issues or have unethical practices in their past history should explore other energy instead of nuclear.

    Like

  27. Every good thing comes with a price..nobody can warrant d safety of everybody on earth anyway..Nuclear power, when put to proper n good usage, d risks, (which in d past 3 decades 2 meltdowns, 1 avoidable n 1 due to wrath of d earth) which I think is still within tolerable level as far as human n d environment is concerned

    Like

  28. There are pros and cons regarding the use of nuclear power. Nuclear power is dangerous when care in operations are not taken, as a slight mistake might lead to issues on human health and the environment. However, if care and safety are taken properly during the operations and risks of incidents can be largely minimized, nuclear power may be a good energy to be further exploited in the future.

    Like

  29. Interesting article. In my opinion, it is really hard to say as there will always be pros and cons on nuclear power. I think it is just a matter of having an equal balance between the two.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s