Jan 11, 2020 in Analysis

Nuclear Energy is a Good Answer to Climate Change

The latest statistics by the International Energy Agency indicate that for the world to be at 20c warming, at least 80% of the world’s electricity must be low carbon. While such a requirement might be dismissed as just another scientific fallacy, the challenge remains whether this massive undertaking can become a reality considering that the global warming situation has gone from bad to worse. “The current challenge is finding a solution towards addressing greenhouse gas emissions. The debate regarding the use of nuclear energy has over the years been contentious. This is mainly because nuclear energy has been abused by governments, corporations and even individuals and used to perpetuate acts of aggression against other states. This is perhaps the reason why there is a lot of regulation in the nuclear energy production sector. As a source of alternative energy, nuclear is lauded by scientists as being the solution to the pollution problem that the world is currently facing. As at now, coal accounts for over a half of all the greenhouseemissions. Considering that all the coal plants were replaced by nuclear plants, there is the possibility that the world could experience a reduction of greenhouse emissions fast and effectively. 

 

As stated by Menyah and Yemane, France was one of the countries that significantly reduced its CO2 emissions after transitioning from fossil fuel to nuclear fusion. Scientists argue that the world needs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 6% annually. However, the problem is that instead of experiencing a reduction, the current situation is an increase of greenhouse gas emissions by almost double digits. So where then is the problem. As stated by Olah, the current estimates are that most countries are incapable of building many nuclearreactors or even initiating viable nuclear energy programs due to the amount of logistics and infrastructure required in building such. Worse still is that the high cost of initiating nuclear programs mean that almost three quarters of nations across the world cannot afford to build nuclear reactors. 

According to Graves et al, China is currently leading in terms of new nuclear programs where the nation has 29 nuclear reactors while another 59 are proposed for construction. However, the country still relies on fossil fuel for approximately 50% of its electricity. The greatest challenge that the nuclear program faces across different countries in the world is that nuclear reactors require burning cement and iron ore during construction. This implies that there has to be some form of emission that is inevitable during the construction of nuclear reactors. An even greater problem is that the more the construction of nuclear reactors the greater the emission of greenhouse gases. Another major challenge that nuclear programs face is the issue of safety. Currently, there are nations that had commenced ambitious nuclear programs but later abandoned such programs midway due to safety concerns. The reason for this change is given as the safety concerns that accompany development of nuclear energy. Energy experts are of the opinion that nuclear energy production is one of the riskiest energy production source hence the need for extra safety measures in case of a disaster. 

“A country like Japan may never reopen its nuclear program after the nation was hit by several nuclear meltdowns as the Fukushima plant in the wake of the 2011 Tsunami”. The disaster also saw a change of opinion regarding nuclear energy coming from people who had earlier supported nuclear energy as the solution to the current climate change. “Germany on the other hand is in the process of re-evaluating its nuclear plans and so is France”. The situation is the same in the United Stateswhere the number of nuclear plants keep on dwindling despite the government’s efforts to build new nuclear power plants and replace the aging plants that pose a great safety challenge. Nuclear energy production can pose a great challenge for countries that do not have the infrastructure to produce this form of energy. Construction of a nuclear power plant would require huge financial commitment as well as involve massive infrastructure and manpower. For this reason, some nations that are considered underdeveloped lack the ability of producing electricity from nuclear energy. “It is estimated that the cost of constructing a fully operation nuclear powerplant is roughly $7 trillion”. 

While the viability of nuclear power as a source of alternative energy source is still subject to debate, nuclear power has contributed significantly towards the reduction of greenhouse gases emissions and in particular carbon dioxide. “The world is currently going through serious climatic challenges that are as a result of greenhouse gases emissions”. If a solution is not found out soon, then people across different parts of the world should brace themselves for even tougher times heading to the future. One of the ways to prevent global warming is controlling the emission of greenhouse emissions. Different environmental agencies have in the past been holding a series of meetings to try and develop ways to control pollution. While it is not possible to stop global warming, there should exists clear cut policies regarding how greenhouse gases are emitted into the atmosphere with an aim of reducing emission of CO2. 

Nuclear power plants have the capacity to reduce emission of greenhouse gases and in particular by replacing some of the traditional methods of electricity generation such as coal. Hoffert et al observes that the world is likely to experience a surge in greenhouse gases emissions by 2030. This explains why there are various interventionalmeasures meant to cushion the world from further climatic changes as a result of CO2 emissions. Nuclear energy is touted as being the next frontier for energy production. However, energy experts argue that there must be a delicate balance when dealing with nuclear energy. There are major concerns that have been raised in the past over the use of nuclear energy and while most of them have been positive, there are a few drawbacks that attract a negative opinion regarding the use of nuclear energy. For example, there are severe ethical considerations relating to nuclear power plants and reactors. 

The Fukushima disaster for example raised a lot of speculations regarding just how safe the world is in case of natural disasters. Being one of the worst nuclear disasters after a previous incidence in Germany, the Fukushima meltdown called for a review of policies and regulations in the energy industry. As stated by Arpegis, it is a little more difficult to implement a nuclear program and despite the fact that individual nations are at liberty to develop nuclear programs that they see fit, there is global regulations that require to be adhered to. Without the ethical and legal consideration involved in nuclear energy production, this form of energy production is considered as being more efficient and a less pollutant which is what the world needs right now. If at all there was a way of ensuring some equitable distribution of nuclear reactors across the world, the rate of CO2 emission could significantly go down. More importantly, nations that can afford nuclear energy production should work together to address the climatic changes crisis instead of concentrating on individual programs since climate change affects every nation indiscriminately. 

logotype

Related essays