Nuclear Power

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1. Introduction

Nuclear power is the use of exothermic nuclear processes to generate heat and electric. Nuclear power plants provided about 5.7% of the world’s energy and 13% of the world’s electricity in 2012. In 2013, the IEA reported that there were 437 operational nuclear power plants in 31 countries. S

2. Safety

There is an ongoing debate about nuclear power. Proponents contend that nuclear power is a safe and a sustainable energy source that reduces carbon emissions. Opponents contend that nuclear power poses many threats to people and the environment. Since the introduction of nuclear power there have been more then 100 accidents where significant radioctive radiation was released to the environment. Major disasters such as Three Miles Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima indicate the the risk are high, because human error can not be excluded. The economic costs of nuclear power accidents is high, and meltdowns can take decades to clean up.The human costs of evacuations of affected populations and lost livelihoods is also significant.

3. Nuclear Risks

Despite these great human health and environmental risks and the occurence of the Fukushma disaster there are 68 nuclear power reactors under construction in 15 countries since the beginning of 2012. Approximately 28 nuclear power plants are under construction in China. Japan’s 2011 Fukushina disaster prompted a rethink of nuclear safety and nuclear energy policy in many countries. Germany decided to close all its reactors by 2022, and Italy has banned nuclear power. Following Fukushima, in 2011, the IEA halved its estimate of additional nuclear generating capacity to be built by 2035.

4. Nuclear Waste

Apart from the many nuclear accidents that happened in the history of nuclear power there is also the problem of high-level radioactive waste management and the disposal of highly radioctive materials created during production of nuclear power.The technical issues in accomplishing this are complex, due to the extremely long periods radio active materials remain deadly to living organisms.

Of particular concern are two elements, technetium-99 with a half-life of 220,000 years and Iodine-129 with a half-life 15.7 million years, which dominate spent nuclear fuel radioactivity after a few thousand years.Two ther troublesome elements in spent fuel are Neptumium-237 with a half- life of two million years and Plutonium 239 with a half-life 24,000 years.

High-level radioactive waste requires sophisticated treatment and management to successfully isolate it from the biosphere.This necessitates treatment, followed by a long-term management strategy involving permanent storage, disposal or transformation of the waste into a non-toxic form.

Governments around the world are considering a range of waste management and disposal options, usually involving deep-geologic placement, although there has been limited progress toward implementing long-term waste management solutions.This is partly because the timeframes in question when dealing with half times between10,000 to millions of years.

The economics of new nuclear power plants is a controversial subject, since there are diverging views on this topic. Nuclear power plants typically have high capital costs for building the plant, but low fuel costs.Therefore, comparison with other power generation methods is strongly dependent on assumptions about construction timescales and capital financing for nuclear plants as well as the future costs of fossil fuels and renewables as well as for energy storage solutions for intermittent power sources..

Analysis of the economics of nuclear power must take into account who bears the risks of future uncertainties.To date most operating nuclear power plants were developed by state owned companies,where the many risks associated with construction costs, operating performance, fuel price, accident liability and other factors were borne by consumers rather than suppliers.

Nuclear power plant accidents rank first in terms of their economic cost, accounting for 41 percent of all property damage attributed to energy accidents. Following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster the Japanese authorities shut down the nation’s 54 nuclear power plants.As of 2013, the Fukushima site remains highly radio-active with some 160,000 evacuees still living in temporary housing, and some land will be unfarmable for centuries.The difficult Fukushima cleanup will take 40 or more years, and cost tens if not hundreds of billions of dollars.

6. Summary and conclusion

From the above summary It is obvious that the use of nuclear fission as a source of energy involves great risks for mankinds survival on our planet and for the wellbeing of future generations, while the economic advantages of nuclear power remain doubtful.The last nuclear disaster at Fukushima may prove the most damaging and costly in the history of nuclear power.

About 437 nuclear power plants were still in operation in 31 countries as of the beginning of 2013.

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There is an analogy with the deployment of fossil fuels.The Oil industry carries on as if there is no serious danger of global warming, despite the many studies carried out by the IPCC.The Nuclear Power industry carries on, as if there were never any nuclear accidents. Governments do not act.

It is time that a whole now class of energy technologies is created which is more efficient, creates no global warming, no nuclear accidents and makes energy available and affordable for all people, everywhere.