The demand for energy is anticipated to increase in the future because of the population growth and development of emerging economies such as China, India, Brazil, and Russia. By 2050, electricity consumption is expected to double due to the shift from fossil energy (Poinssot et al., 2014). Again, anthropogenic activities such as energy production are contributing extensively to greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions. Currently, 80% of energy emanates from fossils fuels; thus, the world will continue to face the challenges of meeting the increasing energy demand and curbing GHG emissions. This essay paper argues for the adoption of nuclear energy as the solution to the present energy crisis.
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Nuclear energy is safer than most of the other sources of energy. Notably, the world wants to cut down the level of GHG emissions by at least 80% by 2050 to mitigate severe climate change (Pfenninger, & Keirstead, 2015). Nuclear energy has lower GHG emissions than fossil fuels; thus, its adoption will cut GHG emissions significantly across the world. In a different vein, nuclear energy has a lower fatality rate than other sources of energy.
According to Brook et al. (2014), “the global average values of the mortality rate per billion kWh due to all causes as reported by the World Health Organization (WHO), are 100 for coal, 36 for oil, 24 for biofuel/biomass, 4 for natural gas, 1.4 for hydro, 0.44 for solar, 0.15 for wind and 0.04 for nuclear” (p. 11). Thus, nuclear energy is viable and safe in meeting the current and future demand for energy across the world.
Nuclear power is economical and reliable. According to Poinssot et al. (2014), nuclear energy can generate base-load electricity at a predictable, stable, and low cost because the technology relies on uranium price. Besides, natural uranium resources are widely distributed across the world than fossil fuels which are found in certain regions (Brook et al., 2014). The wide distribution of uranium across the world makes its mining unlikely to yield significant international crisis and tension as the case of gas or oil (Poinssot et al., 2014). In this regard, nuclear energy is economically viable in providing low cost and stable energy.
Nuclear energy has significant implications for the environment and population health in case of an accident in nuclear plants. Notably, the feasibility of nuclear power is currently based on negative public opinions following the Fukushima accident. Poinssot et al. (2014) point out that, “the public strongly believes that the [Fukushima] accident has important consequences for population health and the environment” (p. 199).
The handling of Fukushima has created mistrust about the capacity of private developers and governments for controlling nuclear reactors in intense situations such as Tsunami and earthquakes. In this regard, the Fukushima accident demonstrates that dealing with nuclear power is beyond technical aspects as it relates directly to societal, environmental, and economical implications.
In conclusion, nuclear energy is viable for the present energy crises because it is safe, economical, and reliable. Notably, nuclear energy is safe due to its lower GHG emission levels than fossil fuels. Again, nuclear energy is economical and reliable due to the low, predictable, and stable price of its main input – uranium. In contrast, nuclear energy has significant impacts on the environment and population health in the case of an accident. However, it should be noted that accidents in nuclear plants are isolated cases, and thus proper mechanisms to curb severe situations such as alternative nuclear waste storage should be put in place.
Brook, B. W., Alonso, A., Meneley, D. A., Misak, J., Blees, T., & van Erp, J. B. (2014). Why nuclear energy is sustainable and has to be part of the energy mix. Sustainable Materials and Technologies 1–2, 8–16.
Pfenninger, S., & Keirstead, J. (2015). Renewables, nuclear, or fossil fuels? Scenarios for Great Britain’s power system considering costs, emissions and energy security. Applied Energy 152, 83–93.
Poinssot, C., Bourg, S., Ouvrier, N., Combernoux, N., Rostaing, C., Vargas-Gonzaleza, M., & Bruno, B. (2014). Assessment of the environmental footprint of nuclear energy systems: Comparison between closed and open fuel cycles. Energy 69(1), 199-211.