Nuclear Power as an Alternative Energy Source

The very idea of using nuclear power as an alternative source of energy is frightening for many folks. Along with its troubled past as well as current issues, it is unlikely that nuclear power could be used to power any country. Nuclear power has numerous problems, but the most obvious and the most noted, are the issues with the safety and cleanliness of the power source.

How Nuclear Power Plants Work

Nuclear Power CO2 Emissions

Nuclear power causes around one third as much CO2 emissions as gas fired electricity production. The emissions could be reduced, but the uranium ores required for reduction are so limited, that if electricity were provided by nuclear power for the whole world, the ores would be exhausted within three years. After the exhaustion of the ores, the use of poorer quality ores in nuclear reactors would produce a lot more CO2 compared to the burning of fossil fuel directly.

There are some who believe that nuclear power does not emit carbon dioxide, which makes it a superior option for future power. The process of generating heat and steam from nuclear materials does not produce carbon dioxide directly, but there are numerous other processes used in nuclear power that do produce carbon dioxide.

There are huge amounts of carbon dioxide emitted during the building and decommissioning of nuclear power plants. A large amount of CO2 is also emitted during the mining, refining, and enriching of uranium to make nuclear power. The CO2 emissions from the process of building nuclear power plants and from the uranium are more part of the emissions from nuclear power than the direct releases from fossil fuels. However, this same process may happen in the process of making other renewable energy sources, but it is not wise to say that nuclear power does not emit CO2.

Nuclear Power Plants Radioactive Waste

Nuclear power also produces a pollutant known as radioactive waste. Each nuclear plant produces 1,000 tons of high-and low-level waste per year. The radioactive waste from nuclear power plants, include parts that may remain dangerous for hundreds or thousands of years, which can be a scary notion for many human beings.

The uranium mill tailings may amount to much more than the radioactive waste from nuclear power plants. The waste is highly hazardous, and nuclear power cannot be fully considered as an alternative energy source, until the problem is solved. However, at this point, the problem of dealing with the dangerous radioactive waste has not been solved.

Safety of Nuclear Power Plants

The safety of nuclear power plants is a major issue for many. The most famous nuclear plant disasters occurred at Three Mile-Island, Chernobyl and the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, which caused deep concern and fears in the minds of many people. The actual possibility of a plant exploding is almost nil, and the rates of the accidents are low, but the dangers created by one accident can have more consequences than an accident that happens in a fossil fuel or renewable generator.

Recent escalations in terrorism have caused the danger of the theft of radioactive materials or attacks on nuclear power plants to become greater than ever, and the thought of a plant exploded has become more real than ever. A small amount of waste exploded inside a conventional nuclear bomb could cause an amazing amount of damage for any area.

Nuclear plants have never been known for being safe, and the incidents that occurred at Three-mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima has made the power source even harder to trust. Most people consider nuclear power to be a dangerous source of power that should no longer be used. Nuclear power has a chance of being one of the alternative sources of power, but it is clear that people are skeptical and are not ready to forget the cleanliness and safety issues with the power.

Page Updated: September 6, 2017
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