Nuclear vs.. Renewable Energy

A pro-nuclear energy debate essay against other renewable energy sources.

Nuclear vs. Renewable Energy
The modern world is constructed of energy from a source of fuel that we know can’t last forever. An energy revolution is starting to find more eco-friendly alternatives, but is the effort in finding effective alternatives really worth it?  Solar, water, wind, geothermal, all are valid, clean alternatives, but will there be one that has enough potential to overtake coal and fossil fuels, while still being extremely environmentally friendly? There is, and nuclear energy is the answer to our mass energy consumption against other renewable resources.
Many anti nuclear energy groups such as Friends of Earth and Greenpeace International argue that creating nuclear energy can be catastrophically dangerous. The result of used up uranium is plutonium and many claim that this is the most poisonous substance to human that exists. Plutonium can also be used to make bombs, creating hesitation to the safety of nuclear energy. While the safety of mining the uranium and the question whether uranium will last for the future both cause uncertainty. However, the highest problem nuclear power holds, is the chance of failure, which could wipe out entire cities.
However, at first look, the opposition has very convincing arguments. After all, safety in human society is the top priority. On the other hand, something our opponents fail to mention is that in the process of nuclear fission, it is possible to completely shut off all collision at anytime in any emergency cases. As for the radiation, we must understand that there is natural radiation in objects all around us: the sun, soil, water, and vegetation and not to mention the internal radiation from our own bodies coming from potassium, carbon, and lead. Nuclear power plants only emit less than a fraction extra of radiation than what we usually encounter. Most human exposure to radiation comes from natural background radiation. The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory states that. “Natural sources of radiation amount to an average annual radiation dose of 295 mrem. The average person receives about 53 mrem from medical procedures and 10 mrem from consumer products.[76] According to the National Safety Council, people living within 50 miles of a nuclear power plant receive an additional 0.01 mrem per year. Living within 50 miles of a coal plant adds 0.03 mrem per year.[77] These numbers are negligible compared with the average annual dose of 358 mrem per year.” Mrems is a unit measuring the dosage of radiation one receives. You can see the harmless difference of radiation of 0.01 mrem per year from nuclear power plants; three times less than coal.
Numerous examples of the benefits gained from nuclear power will make clear its contribution to human demands of electricity. As claimed by the Institute for Plasma Physics in Germany, “as little as 2 liters of water and 250 grams of rock are enough to power a European household for an entire year.” According to the Nuclear Energy Agency’s Red Book, “there is 5.5 million tones of conventional identified uranium resource (which they classify as reasonably assured resources and estimated additional resources costing less than US$130/tonne uranium to extract)”.  Yet, if the radioactive waste of all this uranium will create a problem, many propose the use of lithium, or tritium in a process known as nuclear fusion. R. Keith Evans author of Lithium Reserves and Resources said that the known current lithium reserves would last 3000 years, lithium from seawater would last 60 million years, and a more complicated fusion process using only deuterium from seawater would have fuel for 150 billion years (379-385). In nuclear fusion, we take two elements and collide them together to form a heavier element. A sub result of this collision is energy, which we harness to boil water for steam. The steam is then used to turn turbines for electricity. Nuclear fusion is the same process used in the sun to power it for billions of years. Then why don’t we use it to power our world?
Various people of the world doubt their safety with nuclear power plants and are questioning the health of fish and wildlife living near these generators. It’s true water is used as a coolant for the heat resulted from nuclear fission and/or nuclear fusion, and the heated water is released back into the ocean or lake causing the water temperature to rise. But consider the cost of searching and building alternatives, which can reach up to billions and billions of dollars. With this money we could use it to create separate storage tanks used specifically to cool this water before releasing it back to the wildlife. These tanks would also cost far below the billions and with the extra money that would’ve been used for alternative energy, we could use it to improve the safety of nuclear energy. The world nuclear association give examples of what we could do to improve nuclear reactor failures: high-quality design & construction, equipment which prevents operational disturbances or human failures and errors developing into problems, comprehensive monitoring and regular testing to detect equipment or operator failures, redundant and diverse systems to control damage to the fuel and prevent significant radioactive releases, and provision to confine the effects of severe fuel damage (or any other problem) to the plant itself.
We have been using the same resource for centuries now and a “change,” as Obama would say, is necessary. Fossil fuels have built the modern world, but as this resource is running low, but who will build the next? Similar processes, nuclear fusion and fission, are our answers. Whether it will take years, decades, or centuries to convert to this source, the people of the world will soon realize that the answer to our energy demands has been there for years. It’s never too late to change, so why wait when we can start today.

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One Response to “Nuclear vs.. Renewable Energy”
  1. Keith Evans Says...

    On December 8, 2010 at 2:07 am

    In the 10 page report it is stated on page 2. that I had said that the known current lithium reserves would last 3,000 years, lithium from seawater would have fuel for 150 billion years. Although I write frequently on the issue of lithium reserves I have never made either of these two statements.

    R. Keith Evans (Industrial Minerals Consultant)


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