As our world continues to struggle with climate change, we have yet to find a proper solution. However, scientists are convinced that nuclear energy may be a great alternative for fossil fuels and has the power to satisfy our energy needs. So this article presents a question: can nuclear energy replace our use of fossil fuels? Diving in, let’s talk about it’s advantages and disadvantages and whether it really is suitable for our daily needs.
Starting off, many of you might be unfamiliar with what nuclear energy is. As a simple definition, nuclear power is where electricity is generated from nuclear reactions: fissions and fusions. Although the spelling differs from 2 letters, the processes are rather different. Fission is the act of splitting a heavy and unstable atom, such as uranium, into smaller atoms like iodine, caesium, xenon, and so on. On the other hand, fusion is where two lighter atoms combine together to emit vast amounts of energy. In context, to produce electricity, a nuclear reactor controls a chain reaction, and in this case, it is nuclear fission. This then generates energy which turns water into steam and it provides pressure that spins a generator.
As more and more countries join in the bandwagon to strive for a greener world with limiting global warming, it is obvious that changing the source of fuel and energy is necessary in order to decrease the amount of carbon emissions. Conveniently, nuclear energy proves itself as a potential candidate to substitute the burning of fossil fuels, as it is highly efficient because it is able to produce much more energy compared to fossil fuels with the same cost. It is also really reliable, as nuclear plants run 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, which makes it even more efficient as it is versatile, because it can work non-stop without worrying about delays, unlike solar and wind power that requires some sort of precondition, for instance, blowing wind is essential to wind power.
Realistically speaking, changing energy sources would be a difficult feat, but it would be more manageable using nuclear energy than other sustainable resources. Making an example, solar energy requires an uneven geographical distribution that makes it expensive to fully replace carbon pollutants. This then brings up a major advantage of nuclear energy: the big attraction of its low fuel costs compared to fossil fuels. A bonus would be that nuclear energy has minimal waste and used fuel could be recycled and reprocessed, however it hasn’t been practiced yet, but it may stand as a solution that could be implemented in the future.
So, if it’s so beneficial, why haven’t more people used this form of energy? Being cleaner doesn’t mean that it is sustainable. Unfortunately, the resources of nuclear materials are limited and we only have a finite amount. Incidents like The Chernobyl Disaster worries people about the safety precautions of using nuclear energy. Without a doubt, nuclear energy presents itself with many health and well-being risks, including mining lung cancer (from mining uranium), weapon proliferation to manufacture nuclear weapons, accidents, security and so on.
All in all, it depends on whether the IAEA ( International Atomic Energy Agency) or other organs are able to guarantee the safety of nuclear energy so that more and more nations can utilize nuclear energy as a main source. To answer the question, yes, I believe that one day we are able to rely on nuclear energy for electricity, however more questions have to be answered regarding the safety and health of many people.