Nuclear energy? Nowadays these two words are always sticking on the society’s mouth, but do they know the actual meaning of it? Nuclear energy is basically defined as the energy released by the reaction within the nuclei, as in nuclear fission or fusion. The core reason of using nuclear energy is to generate electric power to satisfy human needs. Usage of the nuclear power plant as an energy generator came together with several boons and banes. As quoted by the Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong about the nuclear energy as an, “important part of the solution to mankind’s energy problems”. (Chang, R, 2 November 2010, Govt preparing for nuclear power option, p. A1)
There are boons and banes for nuclear energy and starting with the boons, nuclear power stations requires lesser fuel then power stations which burn fossil fuels to produce the electrical power of the same amount. An illustration of the radioactive substance used by the nuclear power plant is uranium and plutonium.(Leh, Y. K. ,Chuan, K. K.,Chang, S. L. ,2008, Radioactivity, p.534). Nuclear energy releases million times more energy if compared to other alternative such as hydro or wind energy.(Pandit, R, 2011,Advantages and Disadvantages of Nuclear Energy, para. 5). Thus, using nuclear power plants to produce electrical energy not only it is efficient but also saves cost.
Secondly, the production of nuclear energy does not release greenhouse gases during the reaction. The production of nuclear energy is to be considered as carbon-free. A few examples of the greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide, methane, ozone and chlorofluorocarbon. These greenhouse gases are a huge threat in the current situation, as they cause global warming and climate change. The effect toward the environment is very minimal as there is no release of the greenhouse gases during the nuclear reaction.(Pandit, R, 2011,Advantages and Disadvantages of Nuclear Energy, para. 5)
Conversely, for every good thing in life, there will always be a bad side for it. Hence, what are the banes of nuclear energy?
Meanwhile, for the banes of nuclear energy, the starting cost of designing and building a nuclear power plant is many times more if compared to the cost of building an oil-powered station. (Leh, Y. K. ,Chuan, K. K.,Chang, S. L. ,2008, Radioactivity, p.534). For instance, the current nuclear power plant named “plant vogtle” located in Eastern Georgia is likely to cost $14 billion without taking into account of the taxes and charges and is estimated to be effective by the year 2016.(Henry, R,2012, Building costs rise at U.S. nuclear sites, para. 6).
Besides that, if the nuclear plant were to explode, it will cause a disastrous aftermath. For illustration, according to the report by The Star Newspapers, the nuclear power plant explosion loacated in Fukushima caused by tsunami and earthquakes on March 11, 2011 caused around 19,000 deaths (16,000 known dead, 3,000 missing) and 320,000 were made homeless. The nuclear tragedy alone generated 100,000 nuclear evacuees.(Khor, M, 2012, fukushima-one year later, para. 1, 2 and 3). So, what causes a nuclear power plant to explode? The most fundamental cause of the explosion of nuclear power plant is what we called a “meltdown”. It is a condition where the reactor loses its coolant and without it, the core’s temperature would rise, resulting in the meltdown
In a nutshell, the world as we know have to stop depending on other resources such as the burning of fuel as it will eventually come to an end. Despite the disadvantages given, nuclear energy will soon replace other alternative resources. The point is, people have to be cautious with the use of nuclear power plant to produce electrical energy as the saying goes, ”With great power comes great responsibility”. For now, only time could tell for the level of technology to evolve in such heights to engineer a strong yet environmentally friendly nuclear plant. According to Craig Stevens, “As expanding economies continues to grow, the one source of energy that we can develop rapidly, cheaply and with next-to-no emissions is nuclear energy.” (Craig Stevens. (n.d.)).