What is Nuclear Energy?
Nuclear energy is atomic core energy. Atomic energy. Atoms are tiny, all objects in the universe make up. In bonds that hold atoms together, there is enormous energy. Electricity can be generated by nuclear energy. But the energy needs to be freed first. The nuclear fusion and nuclear fusion can be released from atoms in two ways. When atoms are combined or fused together to form a bigger atom, energy is released during nuclear fusion. So the sun generates energy. Atoms are divided into smaller atoms in nuclear fission and release energy. Nuclear power stations produce electricity using nuclear fission.
Use nuclear reactions to generate electricity is nuclear power. Nuclear fission, nuclear decay, and nuclear fusion reactions can generate nuclear energy. At present, nuclear fusion of uranium and plutonium in nuclear power plants produces the vast majority of nuclear energy. In Niche applications like the radioisotope, nuclear decay processes are used on certain space samples, such as Voyager 2. Nuclear decay processes are used. International research remains focused on fusion power electricity generation.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Nuclear Energy
Advantages of Nuclear Energy
- Cheap Energy
- Reliable energy source
- Produces Minimal Pollution
- High density of energy
- Minimal land footprint
- Sufficient supply of fuel
- Economic Impact
- Dependable baseload energy source
While building nuclear power plants cost a lot, generating energy from them is relatively cheap and their operating costs are low.
Nuclear power is also not subject to the same price fluctuations as traditional sources of fossil fuel, such as coal and natural gas. That is why it is possible to predict the price of nuclear energy well into the future.
This price is probably low, or lower, as technology progresses.
Reliable energy source
Although certain energy sources, such as solar and wind power, depend on weather conditions, nuclear energy has no such constraints. If the wind does not blow or the day is cloudy, it doesn’t matters. The main impacts of nuclear energy plants on external climate factors are predictable and consistent energy efficiency. A fully swinged nuclear power plant can produce non-stop energy for a whole year, which gives a good return on investment, because the energy production is not delayed.
Nuclear power plants are also reliable, as we have enough uranium on earth for the next 70-80 years to generate energy. Although this might not sound like a long time, it is longer than many fossil fuels estimated to last and nuclear power plants are exploring other energy sources.
Produces Minimal Pollution
Nuclear power reactors emit no greenhouse gases. This is a significant advantage over traditional energy sources, such as fossil fuels, which emit massive amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Excess carbon dioxide is a major contributor to climate change. As a result, the lower the carbon and greenhouse gas emissions of an energy source, the better.
According to the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), nuclear energy production prevents the release of 528 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year.
High density of energy
This pro is quite amazing on our list of advantages and disadvantages of nuclear energy. Nuclear fission (the nuclear-energy process) releases much more energy than just fossil fuels such as gas, oil or coal are burned. How far more efficient is it? Nuclear fission is almost 8,000 times more efficient than conventional fossil fuels in energy production. This is a significant amount of energy density. Due to the greater efficiency of nuclear energy, the plant needs fewer fuel and therefore less waste. The required nuclear fuel is therefore much smaller than other types of energy in a nuclear power plant
Minimal land footprint
Nuclear power plants occupy much less physical space than other common clean energy plants (especially wind energy and solar energy). According to the Energy Department, a typical 1000-megawatt (MW) energy generating nuclear plant space occupies around 1 square mile. In comparison, a 360x greater land area and huge solar farms utilise 75x more space is required for a wind farm producing the same quantity of energy. That’s 431 or 3,125 million (!!!) wind turbines. Check this graph by the Department of Electricity and see how many corvettes are needed to create the same quantity of energy as one nuclear reactor.
Sufficient supply of fuel
Uranium, as is the case with fossil fuels, is in finite supply for nuclear power reactors. However, it is estimated that our uranium supplies will last another 80 years, whereas fossil fuels endure far more. We have constantly and continuously depleted our fossil fuel sources since the industrial revolution. It is anticipated that by 2052, gas by 2060, and coal will be lost by 2088 if we continue to consume fossil fuels and keep up our consumption as global population expands.
Of course, we have yet to find new fossil fuel, but they are less and more than before and will finally be lost. Turning to uranium could give us additional time to find better and cleaner energy resources for renewable energy. Moreover, certain countries like India, China and Russia are already working on nuclear energy reactors using greener and more abundant thorium. We’re going to have more than 80 years or fuel available if we switch to thorium. But in theory we would never ever be able to run out of electricity, if the scientists could make nuclear fusion a reality. The use of breeder reactors and nuclear fusion to support nuclear Energy in the foreseeable future will be needed to make sustainable nuclear energy.
Nuclear power offers a wide range of economic benefits. The number of jobs and prosperity that a new facility brings to local communities is pro-nuclear more frequently.
According to NEI, 400 to 700 permanent jobs are created by a new nuclear plant, not to mention thousands of other jobs. At least 2 plants are available in most nuclear facilities. The figure for a coal-fired facility and 50 for a gas plant is comparable to just 90 jobs.
The main reason that local communities are so ecstatic about nuclear power plants is why every plant produces nearly $500 million in goods and services every year. More plant workers mean more people who need lunch and more people who have money to spend.
Dependable baseload energy source
Finally, nuclear energy is an excellent energy source for dependable baseload power. The term “baseload electricity” simply refers to the lowest level of energy demand on the grid over a given time period, such as a week. Nuclear power plants are ideal sources of baseload electricity because they produce a large amount of energy around the clock and at a relatively constant rate. Because of this, nuclear power is a strong contender for replacing current baseload electricity sources that contribute significantly to air pollution, such as large coal plants.
Disadvantages of Nuclear Energy
- High upfront costs
- Produces Radioactive Waste
- Security Threat
- Water intensive
- Impact on the Environment
High upfront costs
Although it is relatively cost-efficient to operate, we know how cheap and cost-effective nuclear power stations generate electricity during operation. The advantages usually outweigh the reversal, but for countries seeking to build new plants costs could be a major deterrent.
Construction of a new plant, costing billions of dollars, may take from 5-10 years. A lot of this and more is recovered during the whole lifetime of the plant, but it can be seen how certain nations may be unwilling.
At the back end there is nothing to be scoffed about, high costs of handling and decommissioning fuel. But nuclear energy is almost always dividend-saving if you can stomach it.
Produces Radioactive Waste
Although the production of nuclear energy does not produce any emissions, radioactive waste does occur which has to be stored securely to avoid polluting the environment. While radiation may sound terrible, we always have small amounts of cosmic or radon radiation in the air we breathe. Radioactive waste from nuclear energy production is not harmful in small quantities but unbelievably dangerous.
Radioactive waste storage is an important challenge for nuclear power stations. Because nuclear waste can’t be destroyed, the current solution is securely screened in containers that can’t contaminate the environment and stored deep under the ground. In the meantime, we hope to find better ways in future to store radioactive waste.
Nuclear power presents a unique threat to our national security because it is powered by nuclear energy. Terrorists might target nuclear power plants with the intention of creating a disaster, and the uranium used to produce the power can be turned into nuclear weapons if they end up in the wrong hands. For these reasons, security surrounding nuclear materials and nuclear power plants is extremely important.
The Chernobyl disaster is one of the first things that most people think when they hear about the nuclear plant. While we are not quite aware that there were as many deaths as 10,000 as possible as a result of Chernobyl, the long-term effects of radiation in the region have been estimated. The 2011 crisis in Fukushima showed that accidents can and do occur regardless of how safe nuclear plants are designed.
A lot of water is needed for nuclear energy plants to generate energy. In 2015, 320 billion gallons of water was consumed by the United States to produce nuclear power. This is more water than the processing of coal.
Water is getting richer and this huge consumption of water could be unsustainable, especially in the face of climate change.
A renewable energy resource is defined as an energy source that is not depleted or replete in a human lifetime. Solar energy is an example of renewable energy because we are not decreasing the sun’s power by converting solar energy into usable electricity.
On the other hand, nuclear energy is a non-renewable source of energy. This is because uranium is a finite resource for the fuel used in nuclear reactors. By mining uranium we deplete the available amount and do not produce more over the course of a human life.
One of the main considerations is that nuclear energy depends on the energy produced by uranium and thorium. We will be unable to build energy with the nuclear power plants we have built in future unless we can find a way to generate nuclear fusion or build breeding reactors before our supply is drowned. In the end, nuclear power is a very high price tag temporary solution.
Experts now believe that uranium is available at approximately 200 years, provided we remain at the same rate in nuclear production. But in future, if we become more nuclear dependent, uranium supply will decline quickly, which can cause problems over the years to come.
Impact on the Environment
While nuclear energy plants are releasing zero emissions of carbon, nuclear power still has a significant environmental impact, mainly through mining and water discharge.
Uranium for nuclear production must be mined. Any mining activities in the surrounding area have a negative effect. In particular, uranium mining is known for its arsenic and radon release. The health of those living around uranium mines, mainly members of the Navajo nation, was adversely affected.
Nuclear plants also cause what is known as thermal pollution. Most nuclear plants, such as a lake or ocean are located on a body of water. The power plant uses lake- or ocean-water to condense steam into water, referred to as cooling water.
This process increases the temperature of the refrigeration water and then is returned to the water body. This hot water, which is usually around 100 degrees freshness, changes substantially the chemistry of the sea or the lake into which it is released, making it unlivable for most aquatic life.