Year/Course: I – BSBADate: August 31, 2011
Nuclear Power Plant
Nuclear power is the use of sustained nuclear fission to generate heat and do useful work. Nuclear power plants provide about 6% of the world's energy and 13–14% of the world's electricity, with the U.S., France, and Japan together accounting for about 50% of nuclear generated electricity. In 2007, the IAEA reported there were 439 nuclear power reactors in operation in the world, operating in 31 countries. Also, more than 150 naval vessels using nuclear propulsion have been built.
But Nuclear power plant accidents include the Chernobyl disaster (1986), Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster (2011), and the Three Mile Island accident (1979). There have also been some nuclear-powered submarine mishaps. However, the safety record of nuclear power is good when compared with many other energy technologies. Research into safety improvements is continuing and nuclear fusion may be used in the future.
China has 25 nuclear power reactors under construction, with plans to build many more, while in the US the licenses of almost half its reactors have been extended to 60 years, and plans to build another dozen are under serious consideration. However, Japan's 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster prompted a rethink of nuclear energy policy in many countries. Germany decided to close all its reactors by 2022, and Italy has banned nuclear power. Following Fukushima, the International Energy Agency halved its estimate of additional nuclear generating capacity to be built by 2035.
And as the world's population increases and there is continued comparison to the current western European, Japanese, and North American living standards, there is likely to be demand for more electrical power. Energy sources available in the world include coal, nuclear, hydroelectric, gas, wind, solar, refuse-based, and biomass. In...