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Transcript of NUCLEAR
Output and Emissions
Juan Paulo Gonzales
In terms of energy generation, nuclear energy is the 3rd largest in the U.S.,and largest in out of non-emitting sources of energy. While nuclear power plants emit small levels of carbon dioxide, all forms of renewable energy emit carbon dioxide as well. Nuclear energy's emissions are as low as many forms of renewable energy as well.
Dangers and Waste
While the dangers of nuclear reactors are certainly high if mishandled, they are highly overplayed. As long as they are handled properly by a trained staff, and the reactors themselves meet certain safety standards, they will be more than safe. Incidents like Chernobyl and Fukushima were both because of inexperienced staff and neglected safety standards. All of the casualties at Fukushima were from the earthquake and tsunami, not the resulting meltdown. Expected deaths due to radiation equal zero. While the area near Chernobyl will be dangerous for millions of years, there were only 41 deaths attributed to the accident. Two died at the scene, four in a helicopter crash, and 32 of Acute Radiation Syndrome. Not the thousands of deaths that people like to claim. It is also worth noting that nuclear reactors do not explode. They are incapable of creating craters like those of nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons, which are tediously, and meticulously built, are in no way similar to the way nuclear reactors are built.
Nuclear reactors produce very few emissions, significantly less than fossil fuels. There is only steam coming out of the silos. Nuclear waste is also not a concern, as spent uranium rods can be recycled, and whatever can't be recycled is safely stored above and below ground, incapable of affecting anything. There is none of the stereotypical glowing green radioactive water, as any water used in a reactor is used for cooling the uranium rods, and as steam for rotating turbines.
Nuclear energy is one of the cheaper options available out of the alternative energy sources. The initial cost is low, owing to it's energy capacity. Operating costs are getting lower as fuel production, refining, and disposal have been improved.
Reliable: A nuclear power plant can produce power 24/7, stopping only for maintenance, as opposed to weather-driven sources such as solar and wind.
Cheap: Nuclear power is cheap, mostly due to the fact that it produces a lot of energy from very little. 28 g of uranium produces the same amount of energy as 100 tonnes of coal.
Availability: While uranium seems rare, about 15 million tonnes in total could be used for power, and more will become available as exploration increases.
Thorium: Thorium can be used in place of uranium, and it's 3 times as abundant as uranium. Almost all of it can be used to create power, and no fuel enrichment is needed, cutting costs even more. Waste is also reduced greatly, and India has the ability to take advantage of it.
Lack of supply: (See advantages) While uranium is seen as a rare mineral, supplies of it are ever increasing. The current supply of uranium will last over 100 years, and there will be more to be found.
Waste: (See Danger and Waste) To go into more detail, the spent fuel is stored underwater for a few years, and is then sent to storage casts, surrounded by concrete.
Environment: Power plants use large amounts of water from nearby lakes or rivers to produce the steam that actually generates the energy. However, the amount of water a nuclear power plant requires to provide energy per house is 23 gallons. The average consumption in a U.S. household is 94 gallons. Such things as physical screens are installed in front of intake structures to prevent fish from entering, and only about 1% of the fish actually die.
Nuclear energy is most likely the source of energy to replace fossil fuels. The amount of energy they can produce and the relative ease of location makes it a better choice than renewable sources. Dams emit 104 million tonnes of methane annually due to the rotting of organic matter such as plankton, and the vegetation that's being flooded over by reservoirs, spillways, and the rivers downstream. Solar and wind energy aren't always available, and geothermal plants aren't suited to every location. The 2 nuclear power plants in Texas provide power for 2.8 million homes, and that number will continue to grow. Other forms of energy can't produce the amount of energy that nuclear can.