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Benefits of Nuclear Energy for World Environment – For and Against

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Nuclear Energy has become a hugely controversial topic after the Fukushima incident in Japan where a nuclear disaster took place because of the earthquake and tsunami.Both the pro and anti nuclear groups have come out with strident arguments for and against nuclear energy.However in some countries like Germany,Switzerland the anti nuclear sentiment has gained so much support that they have decided to permanently end nuclear electricity generation despite the high costs.Before this nuclear based power was gaining ascendancy leading many to call it a  nuclear renaissance as countries like China and India made plans to increase their nuclear power plant capacities massively.But the nuclear accident has thrown a spanner in the works with huge protests being seen in India and China despite its authoritarianism also slowing down its nuclear expansion plans.

Why has Nuclear Energy become such a Hot Potato

The Japanese Nuclear Plant Explosions would have sent shivers down the throats of everyone living near Nuclear Plants.Note Japanese Nuclear Plants are thought to be one of the safest just like the French Nuclear Power Stations.However the Earthquake and the subsequent Tsunamis have thrown the Nuclear Plant’s safety features out of gear.The reactors have already shown minor explosions and some  radiation leak.While  the Nuclear Energy Reactors have not totally melted down and led to a full blown  radiation hazard like Chernobyl or even Three Mile Island,the danger remains

World  Environment Benefits of Nuclear Energy

Nuclear electricity does not produce any GHG emissions or cause air pollution from the combustion of fossil fuels unlike coal,oil or gas.This makes them very attractive as a source of cheap,non carbon dioxide producing electricity.uclear energy is an emission-free energy source because it does not burn anything to produce electricity. Nuclear power plants produce no gases such as nitrogen oxide or sulfur dioxide that could threaten our atmosphere by causing ground-level ozone formation, smog, and acid rain. nuclear power plants produce a large amount of electricity in a relatively small space, they require significantly less land for operation than all other energy sources

Other Benefits of Nuclear Energy

1) Nuclear Transport – There are a number of transport modes like Ships and Submarines which use Nuclear Based Propulsion.Note for the Military,Nuclear Submarines are of the most lethal weapons capable of staying under water for very long periods which diesel submarines are incapable of.

2) Medical Applications – Nuclear Energy finds wide applications in  Medical Science.Use of Nuclear Energy for X-Rays,Chemotherapy Treatments is widely known and accepted.

3) Space and Futuristic Applications – While this technology is still immature and not widely used,Fission Reactors for powering rockets and space vehicles is very useful as the energy generated by small mass is possible which is not possible by chemical energy means.Nuclear Fusion has been said to be the holy grail for generating almost infinite amounts of energy at low cost.R&D continues to be done to develop this and other forms of Nuclear Power like Breeder Reactors etc.

4) Food and Agriculture – Radioisotopes and radiation used in food and agriculture.Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) involves rearing large numbers of insects then irradiating them with gamma radiation before hatching, to sterilize them. The sterile males are then released in large numbers in the infested areas. When they mate with females, no offspring are produced. With repeated releases of sterilized males, the population of the insect pest in a given area is drastically reduced.

Nuclear Electricity Advantages

  1. Reliability – Nuclear Power is a highly reliable form of energy almost as good as other fossil fuel energy forms like coal,gas etc.Nuclear Power Plants except in drastic situations continue to run reliably for the whole day without any changes.
  2. Low Fuel Cost – Large amounts of Nuclear Energy can be produced from the fission on radioactive elements like uranium.The costs of nuclear fuel is relatively  very low compared to other energy sources like coal and gas.Also uranium prices currently are quite low making the nuclear electricity price even lower
  3. Low Electricity Cost – The Electricity produced from Nuclear Power is quite low at around 3-5c/Kwh making it very attractive to construct hydro plants.Nuclear  Plants also  have long lives of between 40-60 years which means that they are extremely profitable once constructed within reasonable costs
  4. High Load Factor – Nuclear Power Plants have very high load factors in excess of 80%.They can generate power almost 24/7 and only require shutdown for periodic maintenance

Against Nuclear Energy

The effects of Nuclear Radiation are quite deadly and widespread even in lower doses or sieverts as was brought to the fore during the Fukushima disaster.It can lead to billions of dollars in lost economic activity.Already 3 major disasters have unfolded in the last 40 years in USA,Russia and Japan despite the safety touted by the Nuclear Industry.

New Nuclear Power Plants face massive delays leading to much higher costs as rule and regulations become tougher.The Nuclear Power Already the nuclear renaissance which was supposed to be boosted by India and China is coming under attack.India’s nuclear power plant to be built at Jaitapur by Areva is seeing massive protests by local villagers as well as intellectuals alike.

Nuclear Waste is already a huge problem which has not been solved by two of the biggest nuclear power countries Japan and USA.Both countries have failed to build nuclear waste recycling facilities despite having  thousands of tons these hazardous,deadly waste


Abhishek Shah

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