In today’s society, nuclear energy is a high demanded source of energy. It provides electricity to households and businesses with electricity efficiently for it to be able to run. It is viewed by various political and non political groups as hazardous, threat to climate change such as global warming, and not a sustainable source of energy. Their view of producing electricity and other sources energy is to be produced from renewable sources such as wind turbines and solar power. Many researchers argue that the threat to environment from the production of nuclear energy is not the case and in fact less harmful to the globe and produces less greenhouse gases (Dawson 2003, 34), some like to see that nuclear energy has a zero carbon emission. Nuclear energy is viewed as a cost effective way of producing electricity compared to coal burning which was seen to be expensive and huge threat to the environment.
The purpose of this report is to consider whether or not nuclear power can indeed be seen as a green and sustainable green source of energy.
This report considers what nuclear power is, the future energy demand in relation to global warming, the advantages of nuclear energy, disadvantages of nuclear energy such as the effects of the environment, whether it can be seen as a green solution in producing energy, and a sustainable source of energy.
1.3 Sources and Methods
Information was collected from books, scholarly journal articles, green peace and greenies internet website.
Nuclear power is energy that is produced for the purpose of proving electricity for domestic, industrial, and other industry use (Hodgson 1999, 51). The cycle of producing energy involves mining the uranium ores, converting for fuel, enrichment, fabrication, the production of a power plant, operating, uranium processing, and waste disposal (Fthenakis and Kim 2006, 2552; Lillington 2009, 94). It is made up of a material called uranium which goes through a number of processes until is it stacked inside fuel rods. These fuel rods are then used to produce heat and steam which allows the nuclear reactor to produce energy (Fthenakis and Kim 2006, 2552). Nuclear power is seen as a hazardous process of producing electricity (Hultman 2008, 41; Greenpeace. 2010; The Greens 2010). Others view as a way of strategy to reduce greenhouse gases (Pasztor 1991, 98) and providing economic stability (Green 2008, 15). As mentioned before, environmental groups such as Greenpeace and political parties for example the Australian Greens party have fought against organisations in the matter of nuclear power and have accusing them of being the main problem for global warming. However society heavily relies on nuclear power and sees this as a demand or simply a necessity for them to use in their daily lives. Nuclear power is easy to produce, it can provide a large supply of electricity nuclear power and sees this as a demand or simply a necessity for them to use in their daily lives. Nuclear power is easy to produce, it can provide a large supply of electricity nuclear power and sees this as a demand or simply a necessity for them to use in their daily lives. Nuclear power is easy to produce; it can provide a large supply of electricity, and is very efficient if providing the demand for electricity (Sovacool 2008, 3). The use of renewable sources of energy from solar and wind would not be enough to provide energy to a house. In fact it cannot power two 60 watt light bulbs for a whole day.
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Future Energy Demand
Nuclear power is considered to be a future energy demand in terms of carbon emissions which is related to global warming (Pasztor 1991, 105; Kessides 2009, 323). With the high demand for electricity to improve living standards, many countries are still constructing and operating nuclear plants to generate nuclear energy (Pasztor 1991, 105; Green 2008, 15; Hodgson 1999, 119). This is due to increase of population, a rise in incomes in countries which develop increases the energy demand. During 2008, the United States had approved another 30 reactors to be built (Green 2008, 15). Countries such as Germany, France, and Japan have made investments to improve their processing activities in which this will result in lower quantities of plutonium and uranium needed to generate nuclear power (Pasztor 1991, 103). As of 2005, there were twenty countries that depended on nuclear energy for the use of electricity. It is seen as a dependable source of energy that has no emission of carbon. This also includes the stage during the processing with fossil fuels (Lorenzini 2005, 33). In the context of global warming, research conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) show that nuclear power should be retained because it is seen as a production of energy that is carbon free (Dawson 2003, 34).
Looking at the element Uranium, one pound of it contains the same energy of one millions of coal (Lorenzini 2005, 33). This means less mining activity for Uranium and requiring less energy. It is seen as been a low carbon emitter, according to Pasztor (1991, 98) it “can be considered as an alternative source of energy in greenhouse gas reduction strategies”. During the production of nuclear energy it is show that small amounts of air pollution along with acidic gases are created during the combustion stage of the fossil fuels (Pasztor 1991, 98). It which this can be a better alternative for producing electricity then coal. However according to Mortimer (1991, 76) “nuclear power is found to offer less than its advocates imply. This is when it’s looked more into it. Again we can also take into account Jan Murray who represented the Uranium Institute who supports the fact the carbon dioxide is not produced by nuclear power (Mortimer 1991, 76). The sustainable development commission mentions that the production of nuclear energy can be seen as a low carbon emission (Kennedy 2007, 3710). Many organisations are currently investing in improved nuclear energy production which can be seen as a positive view, in which this will lead to a decrease in carbon emission (Kennedy 2007, 3710). Building more nuclear plants can see a reduction of gas consumption. At times when there is a shortage, large industries can take advantage of the reduction of gas for their benefit. This means a low impact on the environment, this leads to saving energy and requiring less mining, transport, and exploration (Kennedy 2007, 3711). When it comes to nuclear waste, the coal waste is seen to be more hazardous. It includes been hazardous to the environment and to our health. However nuclear power is less harmful and better for the environment (Lorenzini 2005, 34).
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For nuclear power to be produced, first a nuclear station needs to be constructed. Constructing requires concrete, aluminium, steel, diesel to operate machinery, and copper. In which they do require a large amount of it (Fthenakis and Kim 2007, 2553). The materials required for the construction is gathered from mainly mining activities. In which it is seen that mining does play a role in environmental pollution and emission of greenhouse gases (Kennedy 2007, 3711). As from 2006 cost analysis report, it is estimated to cost 2.8 billion pounds to construct a plant (Kennedy 2007, 3708). The use of Uranium to fuel the nuclear power plant are seen as highly radioactive, fuel is either disposed or reprocessed in storage casks or in pools. However the United States as having the majority of pants in the world ( ), it does not consider reprocessing fuels. Some claim to have less emission and not a contributor to global warming (Mortimer 1991, 76). However during the enrichment, operation, and production stages of the nuclear cycle. It requires a lot of energy in order for the stages to function (Fthenakis and Kim 2007, 2553). The end of the life cycle is still accounted for greenhouse pollution. All power stations and industries that relate to it have an effect on the environment (Hodgson 1999, 117). These effects are seen as a huge impact on our health and landscape that is used for mining which can lead to destruction to the land (Hodgson 1991, 119). As mentioned before, we produce more energy to improve our living, but pollution is produced during the cycle of the nuclear power which brings our living of standard down (Hodgson 1991, 119). Generation of nuclear power produces waste which is dangerous and seen as a global problem. Usually wastes are buried underground and has a mass effect to the earth. Care is not usually taken (Hodgson 1991, 123) in which the effect of radiation pollution can occur.
6.1 Chernobyl and Three Mile Island
Looking at the Chernobyl and the Three Mile Island incident (Greenpeace International 2010) these incidents lead a huge contamination to the water supply and cause of deaths in Ukraine due to radioactive pollution. The people of Ukraine have also suffered from birth defects and other cancerous illness due to the proper care not taken into place (Adamantiades and Kessides 2009, 5160).
The question is raised earlier one is whether nuclear power can be seen as green source of energy. The world has witnessed tragic incidents such as the Chernobyl and Hiroshima in which nuclear power had made a huge effect to the globe (Tilson 1996, 63; Damian 1992, 597). To some certain areas, it can be considered as a green source of energy. Adamantiades and Kessides (2009, 5151) mention that nuclear power has shown that it can avoid effects of fossil fuel pollutants. Eliminating coal and replacing with uranium would put less harm to the environment and lower the greenhouse gas emissions. The more nuclear power used to produce energy can help to reduce the use of such minerals such as lignite, hard coal, and oil. As these minerals are harmful for the environment it would mean less used in exchange for nuclear power. Lorenzini mentions that nuclear power is better for the environment and health compared to other minerals such as coal (Lorenzini 2005, 34). However political groups such as The Australian Greens Party argue that nuclear power is not a solution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions (The Australian Greens 2010). Also Greenpeace international claims that the use of nuclear power is a risk to humanity and the environment (Greenpeace International 2010) but Lorenzini (2005, 38) argues that the goals of nuclear power is ease the pressure on land use along with the environmental problems that’s occur and eliminate emissions that contribute to climate change and human health issues. The debate on whether nuclear power is green is difficult to answer as the positives views are equal to the negative views.
The question whether nuclear power can be seen as sustainable source of energy has been. As Lorenzini mentions (2005, 36) “sustainability of nuclear power depends on an adequate approach to nuclear waste”. This is often difficult due to the difficulties in looking for a suitable site for waste to be deposed. However the nuclear industry has faced this problem of waste disposal on whether it should disposed or reprocessed (Adamantiades and Kessides 2009, 5166). Nuclear waste is either placed in ceramic or glass containers and then taken to an appropriate area for disposal. Due to the Hazardous radiation, Uranium needs to be disposed straight after electricity is produced to in order to have a less effect on the environment (Greenpeace 2010). This is five years after the power plant has cooled down the waste in its pool in order to prevent it from melting down. Nuclear power can seen as not been sustainable, due to the fact that there is no way safe way of disposing it.
To conclude this report, we have mainly identified the advantages and disadvantages of nuclear power in today’s society. A lot of improvements have been made on nuclear power in terms of its performance and harm to the environment. We can see that nuclear energy is a step to been green and is replacing use of coal to provide electricity. However nuclear power is not a sustainable source of energy. As it is difficult to find storage places and the effect it has on the environment once its transferred for cooling. Many groups such as The Australian Greens Party and Greenpeace International are totally against this measure and see this as burden to the environment and to our health. But one question that is raised is that why that is these groups target nuclear power when other sources of generators such as coal are heavily used to provide electricity. Overall nuclear power is a source of energy that we heavily depend on (Sovacool 2008, 2). Renewable sources of energy from solar and wind need to be improved in order to provide the required amount of electricity that a household would require.
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