As Niels said before, there are still a lot of problems with nuclear fusion at this moment, e.g. the “energy problem”. The fusion techniques available today require more energy input than they release energy or there is just a small positive amount of released energy. Either way, nuclear fusion is still a long way ahead of us. If we can overcome these problems, we can be able to produce power in a very effective and clean way.
Since nuclear fusion is still a goal for the future, I will discuss the nuclear energy issues that exist today. Therefore we first have to reconsider the advantages and disadvantages of today’s existing nuclear power plants.
First we give you the advantages:
- Nuclear power generation does emit relatively low amounts of CO2. Nowadays global warming because of the greenhouse gases is a hot topic. The contribution of nuclear power to global warming is relatively little. This is a great advantage of nuclear power plants. Otherwise we have to reconsider that the water used in the cooling towers produces H2O vapors, which is the number 1 greenhouse gas. H2O causes about 2/3 of the greenhouse effect. This is because of a positive feedback mechanism. If the earth warms up, there will be more H2O vapors in the air, which reinforce the greenhouse effect.
- Nuclear power plants already exist and are available worldwide. So in comparison to, for example, nuclear fusion, the technology does not have to be developed first. Also other new technologies (wind energy, solar energy, …) are still in its infancy.
- It is possible to generate a high amount of electrical energy in one single nuclear power plant. The efficiency of nuclear power
There are also many disadvantages of nuclear power:
- The number one problem of nuclear power is the radioactive waste. The waste from nuclear energy is extremely dangerous and it has to be carefully looked after for several thousand years (10’000 years according to United States Environmental Protection Agency standards). There are not really any solutions to this problem, except for nuclear waste treatment.
- It is a high risk power supply. Of course a nuclear power plant has a very high security standard, but it is impossible to build a plant with a 100% security. We all know what horrible consequences there will be if an error or accident occurs in this plant.
- The time frame needed for formalities, planning and building of a new nuclear power generation plant is in the range of 20 to 30 years in the western democracies. In other words: It is an illusion to build new nuclear power plants in a short time.
There are many more advantages and disadvantages to sum up. Please feel free to comment and/or give extra statements to this problem.
(reference 1: http://ec.europa.eu/clima/sites/campaign/pdf/gases_nl.pdf )
(reference 2: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broeikasgassen )
(reference 3: http://timeforchange.org )