6 Benefits of Nuclear Energy to Consider in a Debate

There’s one rule of thumb when it comes to debates about sources: No energy source is perfect. Every one of them has advantages that make it popular and compromises that make it more or less controversial. That’s also the case when it comes to disadvantages and benefits of nuclear energy.

According to the current discussion on global warming, there are ways we could prevent or at least mitigate its advancement. In this context, the revival of nuclear power seems to pop in everybody’s – or at least in many politicians’ – mind.

Risks vs Rewards

In general, the public’s opinion is that while nuclear power is somewhat dangerous and even potentially problematic, we can still use it as a manageable source of generating electricity. One of the biggest problems is radiation, especially when it comes to nuclear waste and maintenance materials. We require expensive solutions to control, contain, and shield people and the environment alike from the harm of such waste.

What’s interesting is that many proposals of mitigating global warming shine the focus on the advantages of nuclear power generation. In these situations, the debates are either overestimating the benefits or drown them in the potentially catastrophic disadvantages. The dialogue about expanding the use of nuclear power should center on weighing the risks against the rewards. These are just some of the issues involved.

Benefits of Nuclear Energy

We cannot create nor destroy energy. What we can do is to convert it from one form to another, with particular interest to the tiny nucleus of an atom. It’s mainly composed of two sorts of particles: the proton (which carries the positive charge) and the neutron (which is electrically neutral).

The very core of the atom’s nucleus releases the nuclear energy. Whether we talk about fission or fusion nuclear reactions, we’re still producing a large amount of energy. Here are some of the benefits we should consider in a fair debate about nuclear energy.

1. Low Pollution

When compared to any of the traditional energy sources, nuclear power takes the edge with the significantly fewer greenhouse emissions it generates. The prevalence in the use of nuclear power seems to have helped decrease the amount of greenhouse gases almost by half. Since it doesn’t give off any gasses like methane and carbon dioxide (the primary greenhouse gasses), nuclear energy has the least effect on the environment.

While coal power plants give off carbon dioxide into the air, causing a number of environmental issues, nuclear power plants deal with insignificant carbon emissions. The unfavorable impact on land, water, or ecosystems is extremely reduced – except for the times when transportation is necessary.

2. Powerful and Efficient

Among the benefits of nuclear energy we also count the fact that it’s very efficient and powerful – more so than any other alternative source of energy. Also, technological advancements have allowed nuclear energy to be the more viable option. This is one of the main advantages that have encouraged many countries to invest in nuclear power. At the moment, however, it provides only a small portion of world’s electricity.

3. More Feasible than Fossil Fuels

Nuclear energy is compellingly more proficient than other energy sources – traditional and alternative. Unlike fossil fuels, nuclear energy innovations allow it to have high energy density. A nuclear power plant also uses comparatively less fuel than other power plants. The energy released by nuclear fission, for instance, is approximately ten million times greater than the amount of energy released by the atom in fossil fuels.

This reason right here has inspired several powerful nations to invest a lot of time and money in nuclear power. Above any other benefit that we might eventually explore, nuclear power has the ultimate upper hand: It doesn’t rely on fossil fuels. This advantage also means it cannot be influenced by fluctuating gas and oil costs.

4. Easy Transportation

Producing nuclear energy requires a small amount of raw material. In other words, only about 28 gram of uranium will release the same energy as produced with 100 metric tons of coal. Given the small quantities it deals with, transportation of fuel for nuclear energy is much easier than fossil fuels. Seeking optimal utilization of natural resources in production of energy is crucial for any nation. Not only does it enhance the socio-economic condition, but it also saves the environment a lot of potential damage.

5. Reliability

With the current rate of consumption of uranium, researchers estimate we have enough uranium to last us another 70-80 years. When in the mode of producing energy, a nuclear power plant can run without disruption for as long as necessary. That’s not the case with solar and wind energy. These alternative sources are dependent on weather conditions, while nuclear power plant has no such climatic constraints.

We cannot ignore the monetary focal points involved in setting up nuclear power plants. It would be indeed costly to switch to utilizing nuclear energy in lieu of traditional energy. However, this disadvantage might be offset by the fact that this energy has a persistent supply. There is a lot of supply in storage, which should last much longer than that of fossil fuels used in the same capacity.

6. Low Operating Costs

The cost of the uranium – the fuel for nuclear energy – is low, which allows nuclear power to produce very inexpensive electricity. Also, the moderately high expense of setting up nuclear power plants is offset by the low expense of running them for years and years on end. Depending on the degree of usage, a nuclear reactor’s normal life is anywhere from 40-60 years. When consolidated, these variables significantly lower the expense of delivering clean power. Even with the fluctuations of the cost of uranium, the impact on the cost of power won’t be that significant.


There’s no doubt: Nuclear energy has the potential of becoming a source of energy for the future. At the same time, just like any other source of energy, it also suffers from some worrying drawbacks. Take a look at this article if you’re interested in finding out some of the biggest disadvantages that come with nuclear energy.

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William E. Eubanks
 

I'm one of the main writers on the site; mostly dealing with environmental news and ways to live green. My goal is to educate others about this great planet, and the ways we can help to protect it.

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