Nuclear Power: Problem or Solution

Topics: Nuclear power, Nuclear fission, Electricity generation Pages: 7 (2410 words) Published: May 29, 2011
Nuclear power is complicated. A nuclear power plant provides energy that does not contribute to global warming. Climate concerns have seen a rise in the construction of new reactors to address growing demands of electricity worldwide. Currently the United States and Canada receive 20% of their electric power from nuclear plants. The rest of the world is at 6% but rising. The benefits drive the nuclear energy movement and continue to do so and the proponents of nuclear power see this as an indispensable solution in reducing the consumption of conflict-ridden fossil fuels. Opponents of nuclear power also make a strong case citing cost, safety and justified global concern of waste storage and the potential for nuclear weapons in areas where terrorism is a major concern. These plants provide the uranium and plutonium regarded as critical components of nuclear weapons. This will be discussed in depth in this paper. This paper will also detail the benefits and detriments of the future growth of nuclear power plants across the globe.

The first uses of nuclear technology were the bombs dropped in Japan in the 1940’s. In the 1950’s physicists and engineers harnessed this power and presented it as a less costly and an alternative form of energy. Nuclear power plants were built with an eye to safety; this was the main concern early on. The 103 reactors in the U.S. today supply 25% more electricity than 109 reactors did a decade ago. This has been achieved through improvements in management, reliability and productivity. In 2010, Taking Sides, Clashing Views on Environmental Issues states that favorability to nuclear energy was running at 67% of Americans in favor of using this technology. The gap of people against this was closing. These companies were being seen as valuable and all operating licenses were being renewed.

Impressive gains in output and reliability at many nuclear power plants have the industry looking to build more plants. Nuclear power is being accepted as the core strength of the U.S. electric supply. And in this “green” era, nuclear is seen as the main source of assisting the U.S. in meeting clean air goals. The Clean Air Act of 1970 set out to improve air quality and nuclear power plants are credited as one big reason that compliance was met. Electric vehicles and hybrid electric vehicles are becoming more in demand and the clean electricity from nuclear power is driving policymakers to continue to support nuclear technology. These vehicles reduce carbon emissions, noise, maintenance and reduced oil usage and reliance on foreign oil. Clean energy is paramount to a sustainable development globally. As the population continues to grow, the demand for energy increases and harnessing wind and solar should increase because they are good options and do not contribute directly to air or water pollution. These renewable fuels contribute in a positive way to a sustainable world but they just don’t produce enough electricity yet, they are considered good alternate options in conjunction with nuclear energy.

The nuclear age started with the thought of this form of generating electricity being less costly. That did not prove to be the case, in the beginning, but today nuclear energy is once again being heralded as a value proposition. The volume of electricity that can be produced and done so in a clean and safe way is looked at as a way to provide environmental attributes and price stability.

The Department of Energy’s Nuclear Power of 2010 program created a partnership between government and industry and ensured adequate funding for the building of new plants. The planned investment was $650 million dollars over several years and assists with the need of program stability and resources necessary to ensure future viability.

The U.S. faces an imminent energy crisis and even though electric power is only 3 to 4 % of our gross domestic product, the other 96 or 97% depends on that to fuel our...
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