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Nuclear Power Plants Pros and Cons – Europe Decides Cons too Disastorous

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Nuclear Power Plants

Nuclear Power Plants around the globe are being closed at a furious rate particularly in Europe. The Fukushima Disaster has caused a nuclear winter in the nuclear power plant industry. Even Nuclear Power Plant Equipment Leaders like Toshiba are changing their strategy to concentrate on Renewable Energy. Even new Nuclear Power Plants being built in India and China are facing massive opposition. New Nuclear Power Plants being built at Jaitapur and Tamil Nadu have met massive organized protests by local citizens throwing the future of nuclear power plants in jeopardy. The Communist Government in China too is going slow on the biggest rollout of nuclear power plants in the world. High Cost Escalation and long project delays had already made building new Nuclear Power Plants in the Developed World almost impossible.

Japan and Germany which are two of the largest nuclear countries have decided to shut down all nuclear power plants. Switzerland and Belgium too have decided to kill the nuclear power industry in their countries. In this light it becomes very important to examine the pros and cons of nuclear power plants. A cost benefit analysis of nuclear energy is crucial as new plants cost billions of dollars and can cause massive costs if things go wrong as was the case with Chernobyl and Three Mile Island Disasters in the 1980s.

In the aftermath of the Nuclear Accident, Germany had temporarily shut 7 of its nuclear reactors none of which is going to be reopened. The other nuclear reactors will also will be completely mothballed by 2022 when their normal life ends. This is a huge death blow to nuclear energy as Germany had one of the largest installed capacities of nuclear power. Switzerland and Japan have killed nuclear energy as well after the catastrophic loss from nuclear power which led to radioactive rain in Seoul, deathly radiation in parts of Japan and the evacuation of 20 kms area from the site of the nuclear plant of TEPCO.

Nuclear Power Plants Pros

  1. Low Fuel Cost and High Energy Density – Nuclear Power Plants  requires very little fuel mostly in the form of uranium. Nuclear Power has the highest energy density compared to other forms of energy. Nuclear Energy Efficiency is thousands of times more effective than oil,gas or coal energy. This is a huge advantage over other fossil fuels whose costs are increasing at a drastic  rate every year.
  2. No Greenhouse Gas Emissions/Air Pollution – Nuclear Power Plants do not produce any GHG emissions or cause air pollution from the combustion of fossil fuels unlike coal, oil or gas.T his makes them very attractive as a source of cheap, non carbon dioxide producing electricity.
  3. High Load Factor – The Load Factor for Solar and Wind Energy ranges from 15-40% which is quite low compared to Nuclear Power Plants. Nuclear Power on the other hand  has a load factor of almost 85-90% which is the highest in the energy industry.
  4. Huge  Potential –Nuclear Power Potential is almost infinite compared to the limited and peak features of other forms of  energy like Wind, Geothermal, Oil, Gas and others. Only Solar Energy can be said to have more potential. Note new technologies and fuels like fast breeder and thorium are still in the works which can increase the potential of Nuclear Power more.
  5. Nuclear Power provides 15% of the world’s Electricity Requirements – Nuclear Energy accounts for around 15% of the world’s production of electricity and for some countries like France there is no alternative in the short term with 80% of the electricity coming from nuclear reactors.

Nuclear Power Plants Cons

  1. Nuclear and Radiation Accidents – This is the biggest con for Nuclear Energy and has been repeated 3 times in the last 30 years in Japan,Russia and USA. The fear of a repeat is so great that despite all the safety arrangements touted by the nuclear equipment operators and suppliers, Nuclear Energy faces an uncertain future.
  2. Nuclear Waste Disposal – Again a massive problem as the spent Nuclear Rods of Nuclear Reactors are prohibitively costly and difficult to dispose of. Spent nuclear fuel is initially very highly radioactive and so must be handled with great care and forethought. There is no foolproof way to dispose nuclear waste fuel after it is used in the Nuclear Reactors. The area around Nuclear Waste Sites can be dangerous to humans for hundreds of year as complex nuclear elements have half lives running into many years. The United States had accumulated more than 50,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel from nuclear reactors. Permanent storage underground in U.S. had been proposed at the Yucca but that project has now been effectively cancelled. Presently, waste is mainly stored at individual reactor sites and there are over 430 locations around the world where radioactive material continues to accumulate.
  3. Low level of Radioactivity from Normal Operations – The nuclear power plants also produces a large volume of low-level radioactive waste in the form of contaminated items like clothing, hand tools, water purifier resins, and (upon decommissioning) the materials of which the reactor itself is built.
  4. Nuclear proliferation – Many countries have used the ruse of nuclear energy programs to generate fuel for developing nuclear weapons .Currently there is a major international controversy with regards to the Iranian Nuclear Energy Program. Nuclear Reactors are targets for rogue state actors who can steal the fuel for creating radiation weapons.
  5. High Capital Investment, Cost Overruns and Long Gestation Time – The time to construct a large Nuclear power project can take between 5-10 years which leads to time and cost overruns. The Nuclear Plant being built in Finland has been one of the biggest failures in Project Finance. The reactor has been delayed by many year and has led to a massive cost overrun. Areva the main nuclear equipment supplier has endured huge losses.In fact the safety regulations and the long time of construction has brought the Nuclear Energy in the Developed World to almost a halt.
  6. Regulations – The Regulations for Nuclear Power Plants are many and cumbersome due to the massive risks of a failure of a nuclear reactor. This greatly increases the costs of generating nuclear power. It also leads to a long time in the actual start to the completion of a Nuclear Plant.
  7. Fuel Danger – Uranium which is the main fuel used in Nuclear Fission Power Plants is limited to a few countries and suppliers. Its use and transport is regulated by international treaties and groups. India which came under sanctions because of testing of nuclear weapons had to shut many of its nuclear plants because of embargoes.

Sneha Shah

I am Sneha, the Editor-in-chief for the Blog. We would be glad to receive suggestions, inputs & comments on GWI from you guys to keep it going! You can contact me for consultancy/trade inquires by writing an email to

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