How beneficial, how dangerous is nuclear energy?

How beneficial, how dangerous is nuclear energy?

The United Nations Conference on Climate Change is taking place in the United Kingdom in November, with representatives from more than 200 countries.

The conference will discuss how to rapidly reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.

Despite many efforts, many countries have not been able to cut the production of harmful gases responsible for climate change. Can nuclear energy be helpful for such countries?

At present, 10 percent of the world's electricity is generated by nuclear reactors. However, the world has become more aware of nuclear energy since the accident at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan a decade ago.

Atomic energy, once considered an alternative to reducing carbon emissions, has changed the perception of all environmentalists.

The question now is what is the future of nuclear energy? Should we build more and more nuclear power plants to combat climate change? Isn't it dangerous to do so somewhere?

Disillusioned with nuclear power?

Germany, like many other countries that took the path of development with the Industrial Revolution, was involved in the pursuit of nuclear power in the 1950s. Germany's goal was to create energy for the future in a way that would not use coal and would reduce pollution.

But the possibility of nuclear power in Germany was blocked due to widespread protests. Opposition to nuclear energy in Germany has been going on ever since. However, in 1969 the first commercial nuclear reactor was built in Germany.

According to experts, there has been a historic debate in Germany over whether nuclear energy is right or not. But in the 1970s, there were widespread demonstrations on the cover of social movements throughout Germany. Especially in the Lower Saxony states, where nuclear waste was to be stored.

There was a road called Gorleban in Germany. Before unification, the road in West Germany was connected to East Germany. The government planned to store nuclear waste in a closed salt mine. The people protested, but the government did not stop.

Nearly a decade later, in 1986, the Chernobyl nuclear accident occurred. Then the anti-nuclear movement resumed in Germany.

The Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine, which was then part of the Soviet Union, had a power outage and nuclear radiation melted the inside of the reactor, killing 30 people. Radiation clouds covered the skies across Europe. Three years after the incident, Germany was reunited and six other nuclear reactors, owned by the Soviet Union, were built.

The condition of those nuclear reactors in East Germany was critical and there was a lot of nuclear waste. So a united Germany decided that it would not need nuclear energy in the future.

On the one hand, German citizens were scared and on the other hand, the leaders were worried about where to get electricity to run the country.

The party of the current German Chancellor Angela Merkel was also initially a supporter of nuclear energy. But the year before his second term, Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant was damaged by a tsunami.

Seeing Fukushima's situation, Merkel decided not to move in the direction of nuclear energy. Most people were already against nuclear energy. Merkel also decided that her party could not support nuclear energy alone.

Germany is shutting down all 17 of its nuclear power plants. But Germany will have to pay a heavy price. With the closure of nuclear power plants, Germany will have to rely on polluting fuels such as coal for energy production. From that, Germany will emit an additional 33.6 million tons of carbon every year. This is 5 percent more than current emissions.

In addition, an average of 1,100 people dies each year from pollution from coal. In other words, moving away from nuclear energy could lead to health problems in Germany.

Change in thinking

"If you had asked me 10 years ago to support nuclear power, I wouldn't have listened to you," said Christy Gogan, co-founder of Terra Praxis, a research organization on reducing carbon emissions. But this is not the case now.

As an environmentalist, I was against nuclear energy and weapons. But when I started working on climate change and energy, could we reduce carbon emissions in less time to save the earth? I thought that. Is this possible only with wind and solar energy? I knew it would be very difficult to do that. '

The greatest concern of the people is that nuclear power stations do not emit very dangerous radiation. The quake and tsunami in Fukushima killed at least 18,000 people and left 1.5 million homeless. Only one person died in the nuclear reactor accident.

According to Christie, people's fears about nuclear energy grew because they saw earthquakes, tsunamis, and nuclear power plant accidents together.

The epicenter was reported below the ground, however; no tsunami alert was issued. The epicenter was reported below the ground, however; no tsunami alert was issued. The epicenter was reported below the ground, however; no tsunami alert was issued. In fact, it was a catastrophe. Due to which the nuclear plant was damaged and people had to be evacuated immediately to make it safe.

A report released by the United Nations in March, 10 years after the accident, said Fukushima residents were not directly affected by the radiation. Therefore, it is necessary to remove the fear of nuclear energy, says Christie.

"The reality is that even if I had to spend my whole life in the restricted area of ​​Fukushima, I would live there longer than in London," she said. Because I'm in danger of air pollution in London. '

But the Fukushima accident has affected people's minds. So what is the future of nuclear energy?

"It's not about competition between nuclear or renewable energy," she said. We need to continuously increase the capacity of solar and wind energy and also prevent energy loss. But even so, we will have to rely on coal and oil for transportation, transportation, and aviation. Therefore, in such a situation, nuclear energy, wind, and solar energy can play an important role in moving forward together.

Nearly 200 signatories to the Paris Agreement have pledged to end greenhouse gas emissions by the middle of this century. But how can this be possible with the use of only solar energy and wind energy? Concerns have been raised. In this way, it seems that nuclear energy is the best option to prevent climate change as soon as possible. But is this argument completely correct?

Nuclear power: an expensive alternative

Nuclear energy can be very helpful in preventing climate change. But it also raises concerns about wind and solar energy. Such as nuclear waste. In addition, there are many other risks associated with nuclear energy.

According to Edwin Lyman, director of the Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington, D.C., the design and construction of a nuclear plant cost a lot of money and the energy produced from it is very expensive.

He says: In the United States and many other countries, nuclear energy is very expensive, not only for fossil fuels but also for solar and wind energy. Many nuclear power plants in the United States are operating at a loss and are shutting down before their licenses expire.

Suspicion of abuse

Protecting nuclear power from attack is also a major challenge. According to Edwin Lime, running a nuclear power plant costs a lot of money on security. The United States wants to reduce the cost of investing heavily in the security of its nuclear power industry. But doing so can be dangerous.

Not only that, the technology from which nuclear energy is generated paves the way for the development of nuclear weapons.

Currently, more than 190 countries have signed the International Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, but not all are abiding by it.

Concerns about nuclear waste

Politics is not untouched by nuclear energy. Demonstrations on the subject of nuclear waste took place in Gorleban, Germany, more than two decades ago. But even today, there is no permanent solution to the problem of nuclear waste.

But Edwin Lyman, an expert on nuclear energy security, says the problem of nuclear waste is more political than technical. In a very deep pit, nuclear waste must be stored in such a way that it does not come into contact with groundwater for at least a thousand years. This is not technically difficult to do. But nowhere do people want to have nuclear waste piled up near them. So far no solution has been found to this problem.

Nuclear waste can be recycled, but it is a very complex process. Garbage after recycling is less dangerous. In France, 59 nuclear power plants have been doing this for decades.

Only five percent of nuclear fuel capacity is used and 95 percent of its capacity is saved. So instead of collecting nuclear waste, many countries are recycling it.

Will new technology increase confidence?

The thing that bothers people the most is how safe is the reactor itself? That is to say.

The accident in Chernobyl was caused by poor design and human error. Similarly, what happened in Fukushima was a natural disaster. But will the ever-evolving technology help reduce the cost of nuclear power plants and make them safer?

According to experts, 80 percent of the goal of reducing carbon emissions can be achieved through renewable energy such as solar and wind. But to achieve the remaining 20 percent, we need to think about nuclear energy.

Costs can be reduced by building new reactors and using artificial intelligence. Reactors made with new technology will be small in size and can be easily installed anywhere. Also, the number can be reduced based on the need.

What is the radiation hazard?

How safe are nuclear reactors, especially for the people who work there? Experts say that not only in the United States but all over the world, the nuclear power industry works with full regulation. From the beginning to the end, everything from fueling to waste management is done very carefully. Such designs have also been developed to make nuclear power plants safer than ever before.

But one problem is that the use of fossil fuels such as coal and petroleum needs to be stopped immediately to prevent global warming. But it takes a long time to build a nuclear power plant.

In the 1960s and 1970s, there was a lot of excitement about nuclear energy. But the Chernobyl and Fukushima incidents reduced that. Yet new nuclear power plants are being built in many parts of the world. Keeping its distance from polluting fuels, the world has been adopting renewable energy as well as nuclear energy.

So will building more nuclear power plants help us stop climate change?

If the goal is to keep the environment clean and reduce carbon emissions on time, then the answer to this question is yes: yes, help is enough.