The objects we see around us are made up of atoms. The atoms have electrons and protons and the nucleus is the centre of the atom. It is also the powerhouse of the atom. Nuclear energy is obtained when these atoms break down, which happens in two possible ways; nuclear fusion and nuclear fission. Nuclear fusion is the nuclear process where two or more light atomic nuclei collide at a very high speed and form a heavier atom and subatomic particles. Nuclear fission, on the other hand, is the radioactive decay where heavier atoms spit and release heat energy that can generate steam. Nuclear energy is rather a newer way to produce energy, in comparison to other sources of energy. It’s been a couple of decades since nuclear energy came into use. However, the truth remains unchanged that each thing comes with its merits and demerits. Here are a few pros and cons of nuclear energy.
PROS AND CONS OF NUCLEAR ENERGY
The use of nuclear energy has always been controversial. While there are many benefits, it comes with few drawbacks too. Let’s have an in-depth understanding.
PROS OF NUCLEAR ENERGY
1.LOWER EMISSION OF GREENHOUSE GASES:-
According to reports published in 1998, the emission of greenhouse gas reduced to nearly half due to the use of nuclear energy. It has been observed that nuclear energy does not emit harmful gases like carbon dioxide and methane, which are strongly responsible for polluting the atmosphere and causing global warming. Nuclear Energy Institute stated that nuclear energy produces cleaner air than other sources of energy. Even though some greenhouse gases are released during transportation, there are no harmful effects on air or water.
2.HIGH POWER OUTPUT
Most energy sources depend upon the sun, water or air. But nature is unpredictable, which means the energy output is dependant on various factors. This isn’t the case in the production of nuclear energy. Nuclear plants operate at a much higher capacity factor. They generate more power than their counterparts.
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The initial cost of setting up a nuclear plant is high. But if we consider the later process, which includes the production of nuclear energy then it’s cost-efficient. The reason being the availability of uranium in the optimum amount. Nuclear energy is more economical than other sources like coal, oil, gas, and etcetera. Also, the nuclear plant once built runs smoothly for a long period. The low fuel cost and that of processing make it cheaper.
4.SUSTAINABLE SOURCE OF ENERGY
Presently, nuclear energy is considered as a sustainable source of energy. Uranium is available in plenty and nuclear energy doesn’t affect the environment. However, the researchers are trying to find a better alternative to uranium, to make nuclear energy a renewable source of energy.
5.THORIUM, AN ALTERNATIVE
Nuclear plants seem to be the future. The reason is the availability of Uranium which will last for more than 80 years. An alternative to this is thorium. It is considered to be a better and safer alternative because thorium is available more readily than Uranium. Also, unlike Uranium, Thorium needs not to be used in high temperatures. Additionally, it releases less waste. Countries like Japan and India are planning to use thorium in their power plants.
CONS OF NUCLEAR ENERGY
Radioactive waste has been a debatable topic for long. The byproduct of nuclear fission hasn’t harmed us yet, but the future can’t be predicted. Since the amount of waste is quite high from the 449 nuclear reactors running presently, there is no long term storage system. This throws light on the probable risk in the future. If not sealed properly, the waste can contaminate the environment and add to the health hazards. Today the seafloor has become the dumping ground for nuclear submarines and containers with nuclear waste. Thus, treating radioactive waste is a major concern.
2.CHANCES OF ACCIDENTS
Even if a lot of safety measures are taken care of, there is no cent percent guarantee of safety. There always lies a considerable chance of an accident. The matter of concern is the scale of devastation. Since nuclear energy is extremely powerful, even a small hazard might lead to an unbearable consequence. It is equally harmful to mankind and nature. So the probability of casualties increases with the number of nuclear plants. Chernobyl is an incident that still lingers in the thoughts of every person.
3.SETTING UP A PLANT
Even if there are a lot of benefits of using nuclear energy, there are some disadvantages that can’t be sidelined. One of them is the time and money required to set up the plant. Not only it is time taking, but it also needs a lot of investment. Also, it is not so easy to get all the clearance and authorization within a short period. It takes twenty to thirty years to plan and build a new nuclear power plant.
Security is a big concern when we bring nuclear energy into consideration. Since it is extremely powerful, there is a chance of a potential leak, terrorist attack and even minimal negligence that might lead to havoc. So, it is essential to take utmost care of the security. Nuclear power plants if damaged possess the threat of harming civilization.
The production of nuclear energy doesn’t release a high amount of greenhouse gases. Therefore it is considered as a safer alternative. But at the very same time, there are radioactive wastes that can be used to make nuclear weapons. Plutonium is important in making nuclear bombs. Even if nuclear energy is useful, it also gives rise to a major concern regarding national security.
Just like a coin has two sides, everything comes with its advantages and disadvantages. Nuclear energy has been a blessing to us, but we shouldn’t even turn a blind eye towards the downfall. It is necessary to maintain a balance between both and monitor everything before coming to a definite conclusion. These are the pros and cons of nuclear energy. KIndly share and do post your comments.