Is Nuclear Energy A Viable Alternative To Fossil Fuels

by Editor

As the world faces an ever impending environmental and energy crises as a result of fossil fuel burning, many groups including scientists and environmentalists are currently reviewing the latest developments in Nuclear Energy.

Although the world is still in shock after the Fukushima disaster which in turn reminded us of Chernobyl, many groups are at this moment pushing the latest research into Nuclear Energy as and alternative to fossil fuels.

 

NARRATION We know the greenhouse gas message. More extreme weather, more acidic oceans, more flooded coastlines. There is a remedy – switch to more carbon-free nuclear power.

Prof Peter Peterson It’s difficult for me to see how we can transition away from fossil fuels and not use significant amounts of nuclear energy.

NARRATION Even environmentalists have put this energy option on the agenda.

Prof Tim Flannery I can’t see an alternative to nuclear power, at least as part of that generation of base load.

Dr Graham Phillips But then came the Fukushima disaster in Japan, and that in turn reminded us of the Chernobyl accident a couple of decades earlier, and, in many people’s eyes, nuclear was back off the agenda. It was just too dangerous.

NARRATION We still don’t know how many years it will take to decontaminate this area, and for the thousands of displaced people to be able to return home.

Prof Derek Abbott My view is that nuclear power in any form is not sustainable on a global scale.

NARRATION After Fukushima, Japan is now talking about phasing out its nuclear reactors. Germany too is moving away from nuclear in favour of renewables.

Prof Barry Brook I think the consequences of ignoring nuclear energy or shutting it down worldwide would be severe from a climate-change perspective.

NARRATION Should we embrace nuclear or not? Historically, our love hate relationship with the power of the atom goes back a long way. In the beginning, Marie Curie, who invented the word ‘radioactivity’, could see the great potential of nuclear for medicine. But in the 1940s, some big nuclear negatives exploded onto the scene. After the war came a push to love the atom again. Some peaceful uses never caught on, like using nukes for engineering.

Read more: Catalyst

Pebble Reactors

The latest developments in Nuclear Energy is said to be a lot safer due to a process called “Pebble Reactors” Pebble reactors use nuclear fuel that has two protective coatings around the radio active fuel element of the reactor. These protective coatings are said to stop the radiation leaking into the environment in the event of a disaster.

Despite the apparent “safer” advantages of the new generation of nuclear power plants and the development of ‘safer” fuels, many countries have grown cold feet when it comes to nuclear energy.

OECD countries, such as Switzerland, Italy and Belgium, are getting cold feet  regarding their nuclear plans, while Austria, Denmark and New Zealand have  completely excluded nuclear as part of their energy mix.

Read more: Vancouver Sun

Nuclear Reactors new or old follow the basic principle of boiling water to spin turbines. There is one giant heat source that provides us with free energy “to Burn” every day… And that source is the Sun!

As the world continues to face an energy crisis in order to meet the appetites of an ever increasing population, wouldn’t it make sense to harness the awesome power of the Sun.

The Sun’s power   (about 386 billion billion megawatts)  is produced by nuclear fusion reactions.  Each second about  700,000,000 tons of hydrogen are converted to about 695,000,000 tons of  helium  and 5,000,000 tons (=3.86e33 ergs) of energy in the form of gamma  rays.  As it travels out toward the surface, the energy is  continuously absorbed and re-emitted at lower  and lower temperatures  so that by the time it reaches the surface, it is primarily  visible light.  For the last 20% of the way to the surface the energy is  carried more by convection than by radiation.

Read more about The Sun l  Sun Facts and images.

What do you think?

Should we be developing much safer ways of boiling water to spin turbines to produce energy other than nuclear? Do you think that ultimately it all comes down to the financial interests of mining corporations and energy companies?

What are your thoughts on the next generation of nuclear reactors as an alternate energy source to fossil fuels?

Is it worth the risk?

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