“World oil reserves are being depleted three times as fast as they are being discovered. Oil is being produced from past discoveries, but the reserves are not being fully replaced.” An article published in “the guardian” reported alarming statistical data about the depletion of oil reserves. The depletion of oil and other natural fuel resources is a threat to human existence. We have to find solutions to fulfill the daily increasing demand for power sources to run our revolutionized world. We have developed different methods to harness energy from many renewable and non-renewable resources. They include hydroelectric power, geothermal power, nuclear power, solar energy, and wind energy. These all are implemented but on the balance sheet, only nuclear power provides more solid and applicable solutions to combat the energy crisis.
Critics argue about the negatives of nuclear power in many aspects. But not neglecting those, of course, I support the idea of transition from fossil fuels or renewable resources dependence to nuclear power. Using nuclear power is the only option that has more potential benefits. Why am I in favor of nuclear power and reluctant to select solar or wind power or other resources as a constant solution? I have analytical and statistical evidence that why should we go with nuclear power. The overwhelming benefits of nuclear power are its relatively low cost, sustainability, less pollution, base-load energy, and availability of alternative fuel.
The first factor which affects the adoption of any resource is our economy. We always prefer low-cost or cost-effective methods of energy production. So the word “nuclear” itself creates misconceptions about its cost-effectiveness. People think it would not enough cheaper that a user could afford it economically. Despite its heavy initial setup cost, it is cost-competitive with other renewable resources. But electricity produced from nuclear power plants is cheaper than the electricity produced from non-renewable resources. Opponents claim that energy from solar or wind is as cheaper as natural gas. But the fact is that by 2016 the cost of solar power would be levelized almost twice as that of nuclear power.
The second beneficial aspect of nuclear energy is its sustainability. All other natural fossil fuels or renewables are not sustainable. Questions arise about if nuclear power is renewable or non-renewable. Apparently, it seems nuclear power is non-renewable like other fossil fuels because uranium or plutonium has “half-lives” and they are going to be decayed completely. But the conversion of uranium into plutonium during fusion reactions provides evidence that nuclear power can also be categorized as renewable somehow. Nuclear energy is sustainable in fusion reactors. At the time, if we learn how to control a fusion reaction properly, we would have an unlimited supply of energy in the future.
The ability of nuclear power plants to provide base-load energy as compared to other renewable resources is very high. These renewable resources are intermittent and variable in nature and are unable to produce energy at a large scale and as well as there are no cheaper methods to store energy. Solar and wind power cannot meet the demand for energy as it is going to be tripled in the next 45-50 years. So the question arises that why can’t we adopt nuclear power and renewable resources together to be dependent upon? The answer lies in the large-scale practicality of each resource. Geothermal energy is very difficult to harness and it is costly too. And there is always the risk of ecological misbalance. Hydroelectric power is feasible just for the areas near rivers or large water bodies. And definitely solar and wind power cannot be dependent upon because they fail to provide the energy base-load. Nuclear power is the only way to provide energy to produce transport fuel (biofuel, methanol, hydrogen fuel) as oil production will peak soon. Unlike renewables, nuclear power plants are capable of massive energy production and there is no geographical restriction to set up a plant. When nuclear power is compared to non-renewables like coal, I can say two things. First, the natural resources have to end up one day, and secondly, these are the main sources of global pollution.
Low pollution could be the more satisfying aspect of nuclear power in spite of people considers it more hazardous to the environment than other resources. The issue of “environmental protection” and “climate change” may provide the basis to use nuclear power. There are abundant reservoirs of coal present around the world. Coal-based power plants produce 100 times more radioactive material than nuclear plants. And the burning of coal is the major source of CO2 production and this gas is directly released into the atmosphere. This causes the “global warming” effect together with other greenhouse gases. We can see the dangerous results of global warming in the form of the raised temperature of the earth, melting of ice caps, and heavy flooding. Nuclear power reactors do not produce CO2 or any other greenhouse gases. But there are always concerns about the transport and storage of nuclear waste and other risks for health and the environment while mining for uranium. Somehow these are true; we can find practical solutions for the treatment of radioactive waste and other problems. If we see the fulfillment of energy from nuclear resources in upcoming years, then these risks are no more important. All renewables and non-renewables are posing threats to the environment already. And they are being used constantly knowing the fact that they are damaging the environment. So why can’t we accept these manageable risks of nuclear power too? The treatment or storage of waste could be risky but it can be reduced to acceptable levels by modern techniques.
An alternative of uranium has also been investigated (“Safe alternatives”). Stats show that we enough uranium for almost the next 80 years to be used as fuel for nuclear reactors. But the good news is those scientists have found thorium as nuclear fuel. The best thing about thorium is that it is present more abundantly and on fusion reaction it is converted into U-233 which is fissile. Plutonium is also being used as nuclear fuel.
Every person in the world may have his own opinion about nuclear power. But what I found is that world is in enormous need of sustainable energy resources that could provide much energy in less time and as well as at low cost. All other renewables and non-renewables are not found to be helpful to provide a constant and reliable solution to meet the energy crisis. Nuclear power has the potential to do this. Nothing can give perfect solutions to problems in the world, everything has positives and negatives. When the advantages of a certain thing overwhelm the harms and prove it better than others, so the negatives should not hinder it. When we are already living in a compromised environment because of other polluting agents, then there is no reason to be dissident to nuclear energy just because of some manageable risks. We should just go with nuclear power.
Imagine the world still battling tuberculosis and anthrax and approximately 422 million diabetics without insulin. These diseases cost many lives in the 19th and 20th centuries..