Nuclear energy is not an option for combating Climate Change
Nuclear energy is an alternative solution for subsidizing the global green house gasses emission rate but is not a permanent solution .As nuclear power is not a clean or renewable form of energy , so to an extent it can be used as an effective means of reducing the green house gasses emission rate but not a permanent solution where better option are being explored and new technologies are being developed.
Professing, the role of production of green house gasses, a large percentage of the emission is also related to electricity production where great quantities of fossil fuels are used in producing electricity. The Nuclear energy provides a better option in producing the non fossil electricity  but the high investment, dangers of radiation or inevitable risks of catastrophic nuclear accidents and also increases the threat of nuclear weapons expansion and research  .
It’s neither the cheapest of the non-fossil fuel alternatives, nor is it the cleanest, but still the demand of nuclear power is growing due to its flexibility of operation and mass energy production capacity .
Moreover, the booming of the renewable technologies has outstripped the nuclear power in development and performance, while ensuring the cost, effectiveness and efficiency, but is yet struggling to adapt the market. There are variable options like Wind Power, Solar Photo Voltaic, Solar Thermal, Geo Thermal, Hydro electricity; Bio Mass, Land gasses etc which are being explored and small fraction of it are being used in different parts of the world .More or less, whether it’s nuclear or any form of energy, if it helps in reducing the rate of emission in any way should certainly be capitalized where its pros and cons should be well evaluated .
Now, looking back to the Nuclear energy prospects, the initial investment for setting up a nuclear plant may be huge or in billions but the average cost of producing nuclear energy is less than the cost of using fossil fuel or coal or hydroelectric which seems very lucrative and adaptive. Moving on the advancement in technology will bring the cost down further in the future but inherently the threats of nuclear power station also shadow its prospects .
Nuclear energy is well recognized as an alternative energy where its demand has reached to the priority of developed and developing nation. To the level, Nuclear power is regarded as one of the options available for alleviating the risk of global climate change and Green house gases s effects, where controversies are raised in and against the use of Nuclear power . Further research and development is necessary in order to assess the technical and economical feasibility of those applications where the renewable options should be give chance on the basis of efficiency and effectiveness . As it’s said that an effort of a person is not a worth but the idea is worth catching thousand of mind where we as an individual can make a difference.
1. In December 1997 governments met in Kyoto, Japan, where they agreed the Kyoto Protocol to the Framework Convention on Climate Change, meaning that governments were committed to stabilizing greenhouse gas emissions to levels that would minimize climate change. The electricity generating sector contributes a large percentage of global greenhouse gas emissions by burning fossil fuels. Nuclear energy, along with renewable such as solar, wind and hydro generates electricity without greenhouse gas emissions.
Nuclear energy provides a fully developed non-fossil electricity generating option with the potential for large scale expansion. A continued steady growth of nuclear energy will allow countries to avoid emitting greenhouse gases from their electricity sector and help them to meet their Kyoto commitment.
2. In the United States, for example, no new nuclear power stations have been ordered since 1978. This has happened in a country which launched the Pressurized Water Reactor design and which houses many more nuclear reactors than any other country. Construction and operating costs have risen so dramatically, especially since the extra safety demands made after the accident at Three Mile Island, that some companies have faced bankruptcy.
In the United Kingdom, after a review of the privatization of the nuclear power industry, the government dismissed the industry’s demands for public funding to build new reactors to combat global warming. Six months later, British Energy cancelled two proposed stations, leaving the UK for the first time in over 40 years with no plans for new nuclear power stations.
3. In the Kyoto Protocol, agreed upon by the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in December 1997, Annex I countries committed to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Also, the Protocol states that Annex I countries shall undertake promotion, research, development and increased use of new and renewable forms of energy, of carbon dioxide sequestration technologies and of advanced and innovative environmentally sound technologies. One important option that could be covered by the last phrase, and is not specifically mentioned, is nuclear energy which is essentially carbon free.
In this connection, the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) has investigated the role that nuclear power could play in alleviating the risk of global climate change. The main objective of the study is to provide a quantitative basis for assessing the consequences for the nuclear sector and for the reduction of GHG emissions of alternative nuclear development paths. The analysis covers the economic, financial, industrial and potential environmental effects of three alternative nuclear power development paths (“nuclear variants”).
- Variant I, “continued nuclear growth”, assumes that nuclear power capacity would grow steadily, reaching 1 120 GWe* in 2050.
- Variant II, “phase-out”, assumes that nuclear power would be phased out completely by 2045.
- Variant III, “stagnation followed by revival”, assumes early retirements of nuclear units in the short term (to 2015) followed by a revival of the nuclear option by 2020 leading to the same nuclear capacity in 2050 as in variant I.
4. Challenges for the Nuclear Industry
Variant I: The main challenges would be to ensure that nuclear power retains and improves it economic competitive position relative to alternative energy sources, and to enhance public understanding and acceptance of nuclear power.
- Variant II: The nuclear sector will be challenged to meet the need for maintaining capabilities and know how to ensure the safe decommissioning of nuclear units and final disposal of radioactive wastes. Nuclear industries in a number of OECD countries have demonstrated already that capability. This variant might exacerbate challenges within the non nuclear energy sectors, in regard to long term security of supply and meeting UNFCCC commitments.
- Variant III: would challenge the nuclear industry to ensure that technical and economic preparedness would be maintained and enhanced during more than two decades of stagnation, in order to keep the nuclear option open. A revival of nuclear power by 2015 is assumed to be based upon technologies that are able to compete favorably with advanced fossil fuelled technologies, renewable sources and other options for alleviating the risk of global climate change.
5. Nuclear energy is expensive. It is in fact one of the least expensive energy sources. In 2004, the average cost of producing nuclear energy in the United States was less than two cents per kilowatt-hour, comparable with coal and hydroelectric. Advances in technology will bring the cost down further in the future.
6. Nuclear waste is produced at every stage of the nuclear fuel cycle, from uranium mining to the reprocessing of spent nuclear. Much of this waste will remain hazardous for thousands of years, leaving a deadly radioactive legacy to future generations.
At nuclear power stations, highly radioactive waste has to be regularly removed from the reactor and at most sites this spent fuel is being stored temporarily in water-filled cooling ponds. According to independent experts, the global quantity of spent fuel produced without a climate based radical expansion of nuclear power is expected to increase from 145,000 tones in 1994, to 322,000 tones by the year 2010. Whilst a variety of disposal methods have been under discussion for decades, there is still no demonstrated method for isolating nuclear waste from the environment for adequate time periods.
As part of the routine operation of every nuclear power station, some waste materials are also discharged directly into the environment. Liquid waste is discharged into the sea and gaseous waste is released into the atmosphere.
7. Nuclear Weapons: Uncontrollable World-wide Proliferation
Plutonium is an inevitable consequence of nuclear power production. The plutonium is contained in the spent nuclear fuel. It is one of the most radiotoxic and dangerous substances in existence. A single microgram, smaller than a speck of dust, can cause fatal cancer if inhaled or ingested and a sphere of plutonium smaller than a tennis ball can be used to make a nuclear bomb capable of killing many thousands of people.
The links between the civilian use of nuclear technology and military applications is one of the most disturbing aspects of the nuclear age. The very first, crude nuclear reactors were specifically built in the 1940s and 1950s to produce plutonium for the US, former Soviet Union and British bombs. Only later were they adapted to generate nuclear electricity.
As nuclear technology spreads around the globe, so does the risk of nuclear proliferation. Nuclear weapons can be constructed using plutonium from either military or civilian sources.
By Shreedeep Rayamajhi
By Shreedeep Rayamajhi
Tags: Nuclearplant , Nuclear
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