Is Nuclear Energy a Solution to the Energy Crisis? (in South Africa)

Topics: Nuclear power, Nuclear fission, Uranium Pages: 16 (4455 words) Published: October 28, 2012


* Abstract

* Introduction

* Report

* Conclusion

* Bibliography

* Appendix


Nuclear energy could be the future of energy and potentially solve the energy crisis problem. Nuclear energy is a sustainable energy source and it can provide millions of times the amount of energy output from a fixed mass of fuel than any other energy source, such as fossil fuel, for the same mass of fuel. Nuclear energy is also very clean for the atmosphere. It produces no greenhouse gases at all. However, nuclear energy can be very harmful to both people and the rest of the natural environment if not managed well. Nuclear meltdowns etc. can release radiation into the atmosphere, which can badly affect cell growth and could result in the deaths of many people and animals, and can destroy the surrounding environment. The same goes for nuclear waste products. The world needs every energy source it can get. Nuclear energy is the most viable source to help us out of the energy crisis, as long as it is well maintained and its technology developed and improved constantly.


This research paper serves to show research conducted about nuclear energy in order to draw a conclusion as to if nuclear energy is a solution to the energy crisis or not. As the world is developing further and further and essential energy resources such as coal are getting less and less, new, sustainable energy sources need to be introduced as to not rob future generations of their energy supplies. Other aspects of current energy sources such as global warming etc. also need to be considered. Nuclear energy is sustainable and clean, but can pose huge health and safety risks and can damage the environment. There is a huge debate as to whether nuclear energy should be implemented for the future or phased out. This research paper investigates the issue.


What is nuclear energy?

Nuclear energy (or nuclear power) is defined by “” as “the use of sustained nuclear fission to generate heat and electricity”. i.e. nuclear energy (heat and electricity) is produced in nuclear reactors through the process of sustained nuclear fission.

The specific type of reactor used to produce heat for nuclear power is called a power reactor. It is one of three types of critical reactor, which is the most common nuclear reactor. In these reactors, the heat produced by converting the kinetic energy given off through nuclear fission is used to heat a working fluid and drive a heat engine that generates mechanical or electrical power. The working fluid is usually water that drives a steam turbine, but some reactors use other materials such as gaseous helium.

“As of 2005, nuclear power provided 6.3% of the world's energy and 15% of the world's electricity, with the U.S., France, and Japan together accounting for 56.5% of nuclear generated electricity. In 2007, the IAEA reported there were 439 nuclear power reactors in operation in the world, operating in 31 countries.” “”

Annual generation of nuclear power has been on a slight downward trend since 2007, decreasing 1.8% in 2009 to 2558 TWh with nuclear power meeting 13–14% of the world's electricity demand. One factor in the nuclear power percentage decrease since 2007 has been the prolonged shutdown of large reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant in Japan following the Niigata-Chuetsu-Oki earthquake. The United States produces the most nuclear energy, with nuclear power providing 19% of the electricity it consumes, while France produces the highest percentage of its electrical energy from nuclear reactors—80% as of 2006. In the European Union as a whole, nuclear energy provides 30% of the electricity. Nuclear energy policy differs among European Union countries, and some, such as Austria, Estonia, Ireland and Italy, have no active nuclear power stations. In comparison,...
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