Advantages And Disadvantages Of Nuclear Energy
In this section we analyze the advantages and disadvantages of nuclear energy. Nevertheless, most organizations related to nuclear energy are already positioned for or against the use of nuclear energy. On this site we try to make an objective analysis about this question, giving all the relevant information and offering a space for different conclusions.
The advantages and disadvantages of nuclear energy have made this alternative energy source one of the most controversial on the market today. Understanding the pros and cons of this energy source can help you make a more informed decision about your own energy use.
Advantages of nuclear energy
The most advantages of nuclear enery are found during the power generation. The generation of electricity through nuclear energy reduces the amount of energy generated from fossil fuels (carbon and petroleum). Less use of fossil fuels means lowering greenhouse gas emissions (CO2 and others).
Currently, fossil fuels are consumed faster than they are produced, so in the next future these resources may be reduced or the price may hightly increase becoming completely inaccessible for most of the population.
Another advantage of nuclear energy is the required amount of fuel: using less fuel we can get much more energy. It represents a significant save on raw materials but also in transport, handling and extraction of nuclear fuel. The cost of nuclear fuel (overall uranium) represents 20% of the cost of energy generated.
The production of electric energy is continuous. A nuclear power plant is generating electricity for almost 90% of annual time. Consequently, it reduces the price and the volatility of other fuels such as petrol or coal.
This continuity benefits the electrical planning. In addition, nuclear energy does not depends on natural aspects. It's a solutions for the main disadvantage of renewable energy, like solar energy or eolic energy, because the hours of sun or wind does not always coincide with the hours with more energy demand.
Nuclear technology is an alternative to fossil fuels, so the consumption of fuels such as coal or oil is reduced. This reduction of coal and oil consumption benefits the situation of global warming and global climate change. By reducing the consumption of fossil fuels we also improve the quality of the air affecting the disease and quality of life.
Disadvantages of nuclear energy
We've previously discussed the advantage of using nuclear energy to reduce fossil fuel consumption. Organizations often use this argument in favor of nuclear energy but not that glitters is all gold. Much of the consumption of fossil fuels is due to road transport, used in thermal engines (cars, trucks, etc.). Savings in fossil fuel for power generation is fairly low.
Despite the high level of sophistication of the safety systems of nuclear power plants the human aspect has always an impact. Facing an unexpected event or managing a nuclear accident we don't have any guarantee that decisions we took are always the best. Two good examples are Chernobyl and Fukushima.
The Chernobyl nuclear accident is, by far, the worst nuclear accident in the history of nuclear energy. Different wrong decisions during the management of the nuclear plant caused a big nuclear explosion.
Referring to the Fukushima nuclear accident, the operations done by the staff were highly questionable. After Chernobyl's nuclear acchident, the nuclear accident in Fukushima is considered as the the second worst accident in the history.
The constructed nuclear reactors have an expiration date. Then, they've to be dismantled, so that main countries producing nuclear energy could maintain a regular number of operating reactors.
Nuclear plants have a limited life. The investment for the construction of a nuclear plant is very high and must be recovered as soon as possible, so it raises the cost of electricity generated. In other words, the energy generated is cheap compared to the cost of the fuel used, but the recovery of its construction is much more expensive.
Nuclear power plants are objectives of terrorist organizations.
Nuclear power plants generate external dependence. Not many countries have uranium mines and not all the countries have nuclear technology, so they have to hire both things overseas.
Current nuclear reactors work by fission nuclear reactions. These chain reactions are generated in case control systems fail, generating continous reactions causing a radioactive explosion that would be virtually impossible to contain.
Probably the most alarming disadvantage is the use of the nuclear energy in the military industry. The first use of nuclear energy was the creation of two nuclear bombs dropped on Japan during World War II. This was the first and the last time that nuclear energy was used in a military attack. Later, several countries signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, but the risk that nuclear weapons could be used in the future will always exist.
Advantages of nuclear fusion versus nuclear fission
Currently the generation of electricity in nuclear reactors is done by nuclear fission reactions. For the moment, nuclear fusion is not valid to generate electric power. Once developed, if nuclear fusion is really practicable, it will provide great advantages over nuclear fission:
- Virtually inexhaustible sources of fuel.
- No nuclear accidents in the reactor due to the chain reactions that occur in nuclear fissions.
- The nuclear waste generated will be much less radioactive.
On the other hand, fusion nuclear energy is unfeasible due to the difficulty to heat the gas at such high temperatures and to maintain a sufficient number of cores for a sufficient time to obtain a released energy higher than that needed to heat and retain the gas It is very expensive.
- BBC - Nuclear power - fission reactions
- Foronuclear - ¿Qué ventajas singulares aporta la energía nuclear en un mercado competitivo?
- Greenpeace - Fin de la era nuclear
Last review: December 20, 2018