Nuclear power has long been the ugly stepsister of the energy sector, due to the controversy surrounding nuclear power as an energy source. With the focus mainly on gas energy, the energy produced by nuclear power plants is often overlooked. Nuclear power has the technology and innovation to become a leading alternative energy source.
US energy companies are generally classified into two categories, namely renewable and non-renewable energy sources. Nuclear power is classified as a non-renewable energy source, as it uses fossil fuels such as carbon to fuel its generators used to produce nuclear energy.
Nuclear power has the following advantages in terms of being an energy source:
- Nuclear power does not need sunshine or wind to produce energy
- It does not need large battery systems
- It has the ability to supplement wind and solar power
Nuclear power has the ability to provide constant, reliable carbon-free power. It currently supplies 20% of America’s energy. It is a sustainable option as the plants require less maintenance and can operate for longer without refuelling.
Nuclear power protects air quality:
Nuclear power is generated by nuclear fission, which is when an atom is split to create energy. This releases heat which is used to boil water to create steam which spins a turbine to generate electricity. Uranium is the element mainly used in nuclear fission. This method of energy generation creates zero greenhouse emissions, and as such contributes to air quality. It also avoids up to 476 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emission from being released. This is the equivalent of removing 100 million cars from the roads.
Nuclear power has a small land footprint:
Nuclear power plants have the ability to produce much more electricity on less land. A facility that could generate 1000 megawatts of electricity requires just 1 square mile of land for its operations.
Nuclear power creates minimal waste:
Nuclear fuel is dense. The uranium used in nuclear power production is small and solid. All the fuels used in nuclear power production in the last 60 years could fit on a football field. It is also possible to reprocess and recycle the waste from nuclear power.
The United States is one of the top countries of nuclear power production. Currently, the US has 96 nuclear power reactors. It is the most effective substitute to challenge fossil fuels for future energy consumption. Nuclear power is cheaper than other clean energy forms such as wind power and solar power. Most governments have put a stop to nuclear expansion due to safety risks such as the Chernobyl disaster, and also due to political reasons. As research develops, nuclear power will eventually have the capacity to power whole cities, and possibly exceed the production of other energy sources such as those produced by gas and oil companies as well as solar power, wind power, and hydropower.
With all the benefits of nuclear power, the energy sector should look into reconsidering it as a valuable and sustainable source of energy.