Uranium Resources in NM Why is uranium mining and nuclear energy suddenly back in the news?
He served as Undersecretary of the U. Department of Energy in — In the years following the major accidents at Three Mile Island in and Chernobyl innuclear power fell out of favor, and some countries applied the brakes to their nuclear programs.
In the last decade, however, it began experiencing something of a renaissance. Concerns about climate change and air pollution, as well as growing demand for electricity, led many governments to reconsider their aversion to nuclear power, which emits little carbon dioxide and had built up an impressive safety and reliability record.
Some countries reversed their phaseouts of nuclear power, some extended the lifetimes of existing reactors, and many developed plans for new ones. But the movement lost momentum in March, when a 9. Three reactors were severely damaged, suffering at least partial fuel meltdowns and releasing radiation at a level only a few times less than Chernobyl.
The event caused widespread public doubts about the safety of nuclear power to resurface. Germany announced an accelerated shutdown of its nuclear reactors, with broad public support, and Japan made a similar declaration, perhaps with less conviction.
Their decisions were made easier thanks to the fact that electricity demand has flagged during the world-wide economic slowdown and the fact that global regulation to limit climate change seems less imminent now than it did a decade ago. In the United States, an already slow approach to new nuclear plants slowed even further in the face of an unanticipated abundance of natural gas.
It would be a mistake, however, to let Fukushima cause governments to abandon nuclear power and its benefits. Electricity generation emits more carbon dioxide in the United States than does transportation or industry, and nuclear power is the largest source of carbon-free electricity in the country.
Nuclear power generation is also relatively cheap, costing less than two cents per kilowatt-hour for operations, maintenance, and fuel. Even after the Fukushima disaster, China, which accounts for about 40 percent of current nuclear power plant construction, and India, Russia, and South Korea, which together account for another 40 percent, shows no signs of backing away from their pushes for nuclear power.
Low natural gas prices, mostly the result of newly accessible shale gas, have brightened the prospects that efficient gas-burning power plants could cut emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants relatively quickly by displacing old, inefficient coal plants, but the historical volatility of natural gas prices has made utility companies wary of putting all their eggs in that basket.
Besides, in the long run, burning natural gas would still release too much carbon dioxide. Wind and solar power are becoming increasingly widespread, but their intermittent and variable supply make them poorly suited for large-scale use in the absence of an affordable way to store electricity.
Hydropower, meanwhile, has very limited prospects for expansion in the United States because of environmental concerns and the small number of potential sites. Still, nuclear power faces a number of challenges in terms of safety, construction costs, waste management, and weapons proliferation.
After Fukushima, the U. The NRC will almost certainly implement a number of the resulting recommendations, and the cost of doing business with nuclear energy in the United States will inevitably go up.
Those plants that are approaching the end of their initial year license period, and that lack certain modern safety features, will face additional scrutiny in having their licenses extended. At the same time, new reactors under construction in Finland and France have gone billions of dollars over budget, casting doubt on the affordability of nuclear power plants.
Public concern about radioactive waste is also hindering nuclear power, and no country yet has a functioning system for disposing of it.
In fact, the U. If the benefits of nuclear power are to be realized in the United States, each of these hurdles must be overcome.
When it comes to safety, the design requirements for nuclear reactors must be reexamined in light of up-to-date analyses of plausible accidents. As for cost, the government and the private sector need to advance new designs that lower the financial risk of constructing nuclear power plants.
The country must also replace its broken nuclear waste management system with a more adaptive one that safely disposes of waste and stores it for centuries. Safer and Cheaper The tsunami that hit Japan in March marked the first time that an external event led to a major release of radioactivity from a nuclear power plant.
The meter-high wave was more than twice the height that Fukushima was designed to withstand, and it left the flooded plant cut off from external logistical support and from its power supply, which is needed to cool the reactor and pools of spent fuel.
The Fukushima disaster will cause nuclear regulators everywhere to reconsider safety requirements—in particular, those specifying which accidents plants must be designed to withstand.
In the 40 years since the first Fukushima reactor was commissioned, seismology and the science of flood hazards have made tremendous progress, drawing on advances in sensors, modeling, and other new capabilities. This new knowledge needs to be brought to bear not only when designing new power plants but also when revisiting the requirements at older plants, as was happening at Fukushima before the tsunami.
Outdated safety requirements should not be kept in place.
With few exceptions, the needed upgrades are likely to be modest, but such a step would help ensure that the designs of plants reflect up-to-date information. The NRC also proposed regulations that would require nuclear power stations to have systems in place to allow them to remain safe if cut off from outside power and access for up to three days.
It issued other recommendations addressing issues such as the removal of combustible gas and the monitoring of spent-fuel storage pools. These proposals do not mean that the NRC lacks confidence in the safety of U.
Not only are their capital costs inherently high; their longer construction times mean that utility companies accumulate substantial financing charges before they can sell any electricity.Transcript of why we shouldn't use nuclear energy.
the concepts of nuclear energy #1 Nuclear energy is the energy in the nucleus of an atom. Atoms are the smallest particles that can break a material.
At the core of each atom there are two types of particles (neutrons and protons) that are held together. Nuclear energy is the energy that holds. The amount of energy released in fission/fusion reactions is huge and with the quantity of fossil fuels gradually decreasing, there are not many options left for the future.
Some advantages of harnessing nuclear energy are: No greenhouse gas emission during power production unlike coal power plants. Another reason that nuclear energy has become much more attractive is that it decreases our dependence on fossil fuels.
The burning of fossil fuels (oil, gas and coal) emit greenhouse gases, but there is also a limited supply and we are quickly using up our reserves. Mar 26, · Why (or why not) nuclear energy? Just as you shouldn't invest all your money into one stock, it's wise for a country to have a diverse portfolio of energy sources to ensure constant coverage.
Why use Nuclear Power? To others, plutonium is a resource we need to make use of. Based on DOE projections of fuel assemblies that will be discharged as spent fuel through the year , there would be enough plutonium present in the U.S.
spent fuel assemblies to operate 20 reactors for 40 years each. Applications of Nuclear Energy. Transcript of why we shouldn't use nuclear energy. the concepts of nuclear energy #1 Nuclear energy is the energy in the nucleus of an atom.
Atoms are the smallest particles that can break a material. At the core of each atom there are two types of particles (neutrons and protons) that are held together.
Nuclear energy is the energy that holds.