Sunday, April 14, 2024

Practically Living Green

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Journal & Opinions

Why Is Nuclear Power Declining As A Low-Carbon Source?

Nuclear power has been around for decades and has proven itself as an extremely reliable source of low-carbon energy. Yet, despite this fact, it has been on the decline for the last decade. In fact, many are actively trying to close down the plants they do have.

The real question is why?

Just this year in the US, the Indian Point Energy Center shut down its second reactor in April 2021. Previously the plant provided 12% of New York state’s total electricity generation.

And since its closure, emissions have been on the rise as more fossil fuel sources have been needed to pick up the slack.

Nuclear Energy Has An Identity Problem

Nuclear

When most people think of clean energy, they think of renewable sources like wind, solar, and hydro. But not many would think about Nuclear.

And that’s because it has an identity crisis.

On the surface, it is an extremely reliable source of low-carbon energy that the world desperately needs. However, certain key disasters have permanently changed the public perception of it.

For instance, many people today immediately think of Chernobyl, an event that was nearly forty years ago. Modern improvements to the systems in place have made this impossible to ever occur again.

The most similar event that ever happened was the Fukushima Daiichi disaster in 2011. Yet, it took an earthquake with a magnitude of 9.0, followed by a tsunami to actually cause a nuclear disaster.

The odds of a major nuclear incident are actually extremely low.

Do the Benefits Outweigh the Risks?

The easiest way to answer this question is to compare it to other fuel sources humanity uses. For instance, take coal. Most are aware that it is a major polluter, but no one associates it with death when they should.

According to the Coal Kills report by Greenpeace, each year, 80,000 to 115,000 premature deaths can be linked to coal usage annually.

To put this into perspective, Chernobyl, the most serious event in nuclear history had a death toll of 4,000. In reality, using nuclear energy actually helps prevent deaths because fewer fossil fuels are being burned, which improves air quality.

Thus, it is actually thousands of times safer to use nuclear power than any other fossil fuel source.

Nuclear Power Compliments Renewable Energy

One of the major complaints about renewable energy is that they are not reliable, and to be honest, there is some truth to it.

Sources like solar and wind are highly dependent on the weather. One cloudy overcast day can cripple solar output. If the wind speeds get too low, the turbines won’t spin. While reliability is improving, there are still flaws.

And because of these specific issues, nuclear energy is the perfect complement to renewable energy.

It is extremely reliable, in fact, it’s the most reliable source of energy available. And you can even directly control how much power is being produced at individual plants.

Thus, when renewable energy sources stumble, nuclear power can pick up the slack.

And unlike most renewable sources of energy, they can be built anywhere, although with a much higher price tag.

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Robert Giaquinto

Robert has been following and writing about environmental stories for years at GreenGeeks. He believes that highlighting environmentally friendly practices can help promote change in every household.

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