We will write a custom Essay on Sources of Energy: Nuclear Power and Hydroelectric Power specifically for you
301 certified writers online
The world requires power in order to sustain its energy needs and requirements. The main source of power in the world is the Sun. This source of energy powers all the natural systems in the world. The Sun is the sole source of energy that plants use in the process of photosynthesis in order to manufacture their food.
This is an essential process since plants are the primary producers in the food chain in the world. The Sun also maintains favourable temperatures in the world that make it possible to maintain life and other biological systems. Therefore, without the sun, there would have been no life on the Earth.
As man evolved, his needs and desires have increased. These factors brought about an increased demand in power. The first source of fire that people discovered is fire. This was the achievement of the cave men. They used fire to keep themselves warm, cook and hunt. However, with the development of civilization and industrialization, the energy requirements of humans for domestic and industrial use were gradually increasing.
As a result, people had to seek for alternative sources of energy. Firewood, coal and petroleum were the main sources of energy. However, because of their negative environmental impact, these sources of energy are not been advocated at the present moment. Scientists have developed energy sources that are clean, renewable and environmental friendly. Hydroelectric and nuclear powers are good examples (Davis, 2006).
Hydroelectric Power is the most common method of generating electric power nowadays. People advocate for this form of power generation because it is a renewable source of energy. As long as there is running water, electricity will be always generated using this method.
HEP power production is also an environmental friendly method of power generation. It has minimal negative impacts on the environment as compared to petroleum, coal and firewood that pollute the environment. Variable amounts of energy can also be generated while using this method. Finally, this form of power generation can be used in any part of the world.
There are, however, some drawbacks associated with this method of power production. The building of dams that act as water reservoirs may cause floods on flat basin. HEP power plants are also a danger to fish and other aquatic inhabitants that are found in rivers.
Due to limited water movements, its salinity increases as well as rates of decay, and finally, there are always sudden changes in water levels. These factors affect aquatic life in a negative way. In addition, due to the high content of salinity, the water cannot be used for irrigation. Because of these facts, people have to advocate for the use of nuclear power.
In this mode of power production, energy is generated through nuclear fusion where energy and heat are released as an end product. This form of energy provides approximately 6% of the total power output. In Japan, France and Germany, nuclear power accounts for more than 50% of the power output (Zimmerman, 2009). This mode of energy production can be used to meet the drawbacks of HEP. It is efficient, renewable, environmental friendly, does not affect aquatic flora and fauna and it is cost effective.
However, there have been fatal accidents in nuclear power plants. The most recent one was the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster that happened in Japan in the year 2011. This accident occurred as a result of an earthquake, a series of machinery failures and meltdown of power plants that led to the release of radioactive material to the environment.
Although no lives were lost, the harm and damage that occurred as a result were tremendous. However, the most fatal nuclear accident that has ever happened in the history is the Chernobyl disaster that took place in Ukraine in 1986. A series of explosions in the nuclear power plant led to the release of radioactive materials into the atmosphere. That radioactive emission spread all over the USSR and some parts of Europe.
It took more than 500,000 employees and approximately 18 billion rubles to handle the situation. This was a heavy blow to the USSR economy. In addition, a lot of flora, fauna, rivers, lakes and human life were affected. That is why people question the use of nuclear power because of these factors. However, nuclear accidents are rare, and if safety precautions are taken, this mode of power production can be safe.
Davis, D. (2006). Alternative Source of Energy. New York: Sage.
Zimmerman, S. (2009). Nuclear Power: The Way Forward. The Bell Journal of Economics, 1 (4), 16-31.