Nuclear Energy as a Viable Alternative Source of Electric Power

NUCLEAR ENERGY A VIABLE ALTERNATIVE 5

The notion of nuclear as a source of energy generates a lot ofanxiety, especially after the 2011 Fukushima disaster. Nuclear poweris the outcome of fission of radioactive substances such as Uraniumthat results in the production of heat and remains a complementarysource of energy in many countries. Debate continues with regards towhether or not nuclear power is renewable. On the basis that nuclearpower is an outcome of radioactivity my take is that nuclear energyis not renewable since it is a product of mining and extraction ofuranium which depletes available stocks. My views are consistent withthose of Lofquist (2015) who in a study titled “after Fukushima”and focusing on nuclear power and choices, contends that nuclearpower and fuels based on fossil are replaceable with renewablesources.

Several benefits though contested (Lofquist, 2015) accrue from theuse of nuclear energy. Many countries rely on artificial sources ofenergy for lack of natural sources. In such situations, nuclear poweris argued to provide an alternative energy provision strategy that isflexible (Lofquist, 2015). I tend to take a similar position andconcur that use of nuclear energy prevents over-reliance on theimportation of fuel loaded with fossil. Another benefit, whichhowever elicits so many disputes as noted by Schrader-Frechette(cited in Lofquist, 2015, p.293) is that nuclear energy is cheap. Theargument given is that reports generated by industries tended tounderestimate capital costs and construction time whileoverestimating reactor lifetimes. The overall impact is that nuclearpower is thought to be cheap when in fact it is not. Plants producingnuclear energy also emit relatively small proportions of CO2in comparison with those powered by fossil fuel which is beneficialto the ecology requirements of the environment.

Despite the mentioned benefits, nuclear energy remains hazardous tohuman health. This form of energy results from mining and extractionof uranium, which is very harmful to people`s health and could causehealth disorders like lung cancer to miners. Moreover, nuclear energyis a potential source of materials required to produce nuclearweapons (Lofquist, 2015). Questions linger as to whether one wouldaccept having a nuclear plant build in their neighbourhood. Myposition is that of scepticism basing on experiences with nuclearenergy disasters such as that of Fukushima in 2011 which result fromthe inability to manage nuclear waste. According to Lofquist (2015),management of nuclear waste remains a challenge, due to the potentialhazard and longevity of such waste. Whereas management of suchfacilities may want to assure residents of their safety, experiencedrawn from France where advanced reactors tended to develop technicalproblems (Schneider, as cited in Lofquist, 2015, p.294) does notprovide any respite.

Despite Scepticism mainly shown by the US towards nuclear expansion,some countries continue to benefit from the use of nuclear energy.According to the International Energy Agency (as cited in Lofquist,2015, p.293), France relied heavily on nuclear power as a means ofindependence from the importation of fossil fuel and received 75.9%of all her electricity in 2010 from nuclear energy. On the contrary,Germany received 22.6% while the US received a paltry 19.3% of theirelectricity from nuclear power during the same period. Myconsideration is therefore that it is true that some countriesutilise more nuclear energy than the United States possibly to reducethe concentration of CO2 in the environment. My conclusionis that although nuclear power is non-renewable and risky for theenvironment as a result of poor management of waste, it provides analternative source of energy that is cheap and rids the environmentof massive emissions of CO2 as witnessed with fossilfuels.

Reference

Lars lofsquist (2013). Nuclear Power and Societal Choice. Journalof Risk Research Vol. 18, No. 3, 291-303