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The Advantages and Disadvantages of Nuclear Energy


bamzooks 1 / -  
Mar 2, 2024   #1
The word 'nuclear energy' can have quite a bit of weight attached to it. Nuclear energy has many misconceptions and misinformation, and it is vital that we sort through the vast amount of information to find the truth. What are the advantages and disadvantages of nuclear energy in terms of cost, safety, and environmental impact? This is an incredibly important question to ask, as it addresses the largest concerns about nuclear energy such as the cost of building and maintaining nuclear plants, the security and safety of the plants, and the impact nuclear energy has on the environment.

While nuclear energy has high initial construction costs, its low fuel costs and high energy output make it a cost-effective source of electricity in the long run. When addressing the different energy sources, cost becomes vital. Is nuclear energy efficient? Is it more cost effective than other energy sources? An article published to Science Journal states that "Excluding nuclear power could double or triple the average cost of electricity for deep decarbonization scenarios because of the enormous overcapacity of solar energy, wind energy, and batteries that would be required to meet demand in the absence of a dispatchable low-carbon energy source." (Parsons et al.) The article claims that other energy sources are much more costly than nuclear energy and would end up increasing electricity prices. While building nuclear plants are expensive, the article says that 'we are making progress in reducing the upfront cost of nuclear plants. Although it is expensive to construct, security of these plants should not be forgotten. An article written by Jacob Marsh concludes that "Nuclear reactors... require many levels of safety built around them, which drives up the cost of new nuclear plants."

The disposal of nuclear waste presents a significant challenge due to the long-term radioactivity and the potential environmental hazards it creates. The process of finding storage facilities that can safely contain this waste for thousands, if not millions, of years requires careful planning and consideration. An article published to Earth.org adds that "...nuclear waste contains highly poisonous chemicals like plutonium and the uranium pellets used as fuel." (Igini) Additionally, the costs of decommissioning nuclear plants are substantial, including infrastructure dismantling, radioactive material decontamination, and spent fuel management. However, the advantages cannot be ignored, with the scare of Global Warming on the horizon this statement from The U.S. Office of Energy is important: "Nuclear... avoids more than 470 million metric tons of carbon each year, which is the equivalent of removing 100 million cars off of the road."

Strict regulations for the operation and safety of nuclear facilities are critical, as nuclear accidents can have catastrophic consequences. The Chernobyl disaster and the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown are unfortunate reminders of this, as they caused immediate loss of life, environmental contamination, and displacement to many people. An article from National Geographic says that these accidents have also created "public mistrust [that] has dogged the recovery effort, despite government assurances that most areas are safe." (Nunez) To protect against these disasters, nuclear facilities must practice strict safety protocols, undergo regular inspections, and implement strong emergency response plans. An article published by the Conservation Institute includes that "[nuclear plants]...are usually isolated in several feet of concrete, steel, and lead to ensure that the radioactivity stays contained." These measures are a safeguard for both human lives and the environment against the risks associated with nuclear energy.

Compared to power sources coming from fossil fuels, nuclear energy significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Unlike coal or natural gas plants that generate substantial air pollutants during operation, nuclear reactors contribute significantly to improving air quality and combating climate change by producing minimal pollution. An article by Soumya Karlamangla and published to the New York Times states that "Nuclear power isn't a renewable energy source like solar or wind power, but it is emissions-free, meaning it doesn't produce the greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming," The process of nuclear fission does not directly release any carbon dioxide or sulfur dioxide emissions. Therefore, it offers a cleaner alternative to traditional fossil fuels, helping to mitigate environmental impacts associated with global warming and air pollution. Furthermore, nuclear power plays a pivotal role in reducing our dependence on fossil fuels for generating electricity, which is essential for driving towards a more sustainable and eco-friendly energy mix.

Throughout the history of nuclear power, only a few nuclear accidents have occurred, which advocates consider anomalies, not normal occurrences. The Conservation Institute points out that "The current generation of reactors in operation and those being constructed, Generation III, have not failed in the way the Generation I and II reactors did. (Krainlew) Advancements in technology and operational procedures continually enhance safety standards, thereby reducing the risk of catastrophic events. Those is favor of nuclear energy argue that a sole focus on these rare accidents can cloud nuclear energy's numerous benefits. It is imperative that we address these problems, but at the same time acknowledge the progress made in this field.

In conclusion, the use of nuclear energy is a complex and controversial issue that involves several considerations such as expense, security, and environmental impact. Despite having low carbon emissions that can help mitigate climate change, nuclear power faces significant challenges. The decommissioning costs, waste disposal, and rare but potentially disastrous accidents highlight the importance of severe restrictions and technological advancements to provide safety and security. Continued dialogue and innovation are necessary as technology evolves and societal priorities shift. Making informed decisions at every step is vital to create a sustainable future for our energy needs.
Holt  Educational Consultant - / 14,797 4780  
Mar 6, 2024   #2
The research paper had a very clear start and offered an exciting promise for the information to be presented. Then, as the presentation progressed, it became apparent that you are merely mimicking what the information you found stated. What then became lacking in the presentation is a balanced comparison and contrasting consideration stemming from your opinion as the writer of the paper. You tend to just post the citation, then leave it at that. The reader becomes uneasy later on as we just keep reading the citations with little to no explanations or opinions coming from you. That creates an imbalance in the presentation and leaves the essay under developed in terms of the advantages and disadvantages discussion.


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