Alternatives to fossil fuels Essay
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The conventional source of energy like coal, the petroleum, etc, will probably be exhausted up within a time that the humanity might foresee. In addition, according to Hordeski (2002), fossil fuels such as petroleum, natural gas, coal must be discovered and extracted before they can be conducive to mankind. This is a costly and time-consuming job. Meanwhile, the quantity of these fuels is limited. Therefore, it is proved that the global resources consumption is undue.
Their supply is virtually unlimited or they can be replaced as needed.
Because of less pollution, recycling, larger power and higher efficiency, the nuclear power seems to be more than a good choice definitely. This essay will first outline the effects of the over-consumption of global natural resources, which followed by going to assess the viability of using nuclear power as a alternative in a long-term. Last but not least, the essay will point out that the measure should be first considered as a priority currently.
Abundant clean energy is all that humankind expected in the modern time. As a new energy, nuclear power plays an important role in the current world. Kurdsunoaeglu (2000) points out that nuclear power plants generate electricity without release of chemicals which cause atmospheric pollution and global warming. However, using nuclear technology more effectively will probably help people avoid such danger and threat. Moreover, burning fossil fuels continually, which place carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, will cause changes in the climate that maybe catastrophic for human. Furthermore, the escalating price of fossil fuels will raise the price of everything else the location of the remaining reserves is the source of much of today’s international disorder (A white-hot elephant 2006). Therefore, exploring the nuclear power has become the urgent project to face for the aim of less pollution.
Because the energy converted relatively balance, the nuclear energy can be recycled. Recycling the nuclear power will reduce harmful emissions. Furthermore, people could make use of good things of small quantities of emissions which so much as are just thrown away as waste. The president of Spain has agreed to a widely consultative process to find a solution to what to do with existing radioactive waste (Spain says “Adios” to nuclear powe:Fourth European country to begin phase out 2006).
The effort would lead to a new energy system that will save more energy during transformation. Nuclear energy is obtained by nuclear fission and radioactive decay, both of which extract energy with a costless way, and also bring us an alternative choice of energy source without any pollution. On the other hand, the ways of recycling the nuclear power are comprehensive. Under the modern technology, industry, agriculture, environmental protection, health and medical community, scientific research are all dying for the technology of recycling nuclear power. At the present moment, the function this technology has drawn out its maximum utility in some fields.
Compared with other alternatives, nuclear power can produce bigger energy. Studies show that the total annual solar energy input to the earth is more than 15,000 times as great as the earth current yearly use of fossil and nuclear fuels. The term photovoltaic comes from the Greek word for light, photos and voltaic which refers to the unit of electromotive force. The discovery of the photovoltaic effect goes back to the French physicist Becquerel, who conducted experiments with a wet cell battery and found that the battery voltage increased when its silver plates were exposed to sunlight (Hordeski, 2002). On the face of this fact, once completely put it into the use, nuclear power will display the energy with the amount that beyond imagination.
According to Hordeski (2002), Nuclear power stations operate on the same principles as fossil fuel plants except the heat from the fossil fuel is replaced by a heat from a controlled nuclear reactor. This means if only the produce of energy conversion keep balance, nuclear power can keep a higher efficiency. Opportunities for nuclear power are distributed broadly around the world, and nuclear power can help to address concerns over sustainable energy resources (Advertising in Cooperation in the Energy Futures of China and the United States, 2000). Engineering a new energy system will provide stewardship for all life on earth. Renewable energy is effectively infinite in supply.
Presently the cost of using nuclear power is very high. This is due to that using the nuclear power needs a very high scientific and technological content. The deficiency in this plan is very clear. The process of using nuclear power is very complicated. Energy is generally divided into two categories: stored and transient. The stored forms of energy are potential, kinetic, internal, chemical, and nuclear. Chemical and nuclear energy represent the energy bound up in the structure of the molecular and atomic compounds (Hordeski, 2002). In the long and complicated course of exploring and using this energy, the sufficient manpower, physical and financial resources are unprecedentedly needed.
The risk still exists in using the nuclear power. Elliott (1997) stresses the longer term prospects for nuclear power are unclear. Fission reactors use a fuel (uranium), which although still relatively abundant, will not be available indefinitely; fast breeder reactors, which in effect would stretch the availability of the fuel, have yet to be operated commercially and pose what some people regards as significant safety and security risks. Finally, nuclear fusion remains a long-term possibility, but as we may predict that, even if the technology comes to be perfect, it also has problems. As discussed by (Cimbala, 2000) nuclear optimists assume that these states will reason as past nuclear powers have about the costs and risks of nuclear brinkmanship or war, the international society still have to appeal for an effective and peaceful way in using nuclear power resources in behalf of benefiting the humanity.
The challenges of nuclear power are widely recognized to be in four aspects: cost, operational safety, the safe disposal of nuclear waste, and the prevention of the proliferation of nuclear weapons (Advertising in Cooperation in the Energy Futures of China and the United States, 2000). Focus on these four challenges, there are several available solutions to deal with.
Firstly, the governments may use mass media as vehicles for propaganda to support the peaceful use of nuclear energy; enhance the use of nuclear energy security and persist the principle of use nuclear power. Bent, Orr and Baker (2002) claim that if national leaders explained the importance of developing a sustainable energy policy, and pushed hard for one, the people would follow their leadership. Most people are keenly aware of the urgent energy challenges and are prepared to make sacrifices to ensure that the world has an adequate, secure, sustainable, and affordable energy supply.
Secondly, every country should be dedicated to produce a new energy system to develop the new technology and reduce the cost of nuclear power. A fully implementation of this system would stop the use of fossil fuels and launch an entirely new energy infrastructure. An economist, Joseph Schumpeter makes convincing arguments that new products and innovation are the driving force of an expanding economy (Robert, 1992). The universities which are equipped with high quality research offices should set the specialized field to appeal for more talents who design to be nuclear experts. The educational policy will advance the development of the top technology.
The third point, increasing funds for scientific research to improve the use of nuclear power and technology is another important policy to support the reasonable use of nuclear power. Laurence (2002) maintains that ‘Homo Technologist must implement the energy system that utilizes no fossil fuels. An energy system based on renewable energy and fusion reactors has been proposed.’ Governments should establish special funds to support this scientific research. In addition, the public should be educated in how to use energy more effectively, because it is important to bear in mind that making the nuclear power become the focal point in the area of energy utilization in the future is an essential work for all the world.
In conclusion, facing the environmental concerns and energy shortage, seeking available alternatives to replace the conventional energy sources becomes an urgent matter at the present time. There are several energy resources that are renewable. People have to find long-term alternatives to substitute fossil fuels to overcome the new energy challenges. Thus, nuclear power is going to become a new energy which has comparatively more powerful energy and higher efficiency. However, the use of nuclear power has some flaws.
As mentioned in the former part, it always goes with the higher costs, potential risks and desires for highly advanced technology. Facing these problems, scientists are drawing some strong points to offset its own weakness, devoting themselves to developing the nuclear technology. Besides enhancing the use of nuclear energy security, the governments are also required to increase the funds to support the scientific research for making nuclear power more effective, safer and more economical to serve humanity.