Should Australia turn to nuclear power plants?
"The fundamental challenge that our nation faces is we have to decarbonize within 50 years or we are facing a climate disaster and right now the only technology that looks really, really good in that context is nuclear."
Australia is facing an energy crisis where some Australian’s can’t even pay to cook a simple meal because of the risen power prices. Australia’s deepening energy crisis is said to be fixable if nuclear reactors are considered, according to the recent study from industry superannuation’s chief lobby group. The Chernobyl disaster and Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster are both examples of what could happen if something went wrong within the nuclear power plant; so why does ISA (Industry Super Australia) want to consider using nuclear power to solve Australia’s energy crisis?
Here are some of the pros and cons of having a nuclear power plant as a source of energy:
- Generating electricity in nuclear reactors is cheaper than electricity generating from oil, gas, and coal, not to speak of the renewable energy sources!
- Nuclear power plants provide a stable base load of energy.
- It is in most cases more beneficial, in terms of the climate crisis, to replace other energy harnessing methods we use today with nuclear power. The environmental effects of nuclear power are relatively light compared to those. However, nuclear waste is potentially harmful to both humans and the environment.
- Radioactive waste can possess a threat to the environment and is dangerous for humans. We all remember the Chernobyl accident, where the harmful effects of nuclear radiation on humans can even be witnessed today. Estimates conclude that somewhere between 15 000 and 30 000 people lost their lives in the Chernobyl aftermath and more than 2.5 million Ukrainians are still struggling with health problems related to nuclear waste.
A major nuclear crisis happened also in Japan last March 11, 2011. While the casualties were not as high as with the Chernobyl accident, the environmental effects were disastrous.
History shows that we can never really protect us 100% against these disasters. Accidents do happen.
- The nuclear power plants emit negligible amounts if any, carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. However, the processes in the nuclear fuel chain such as mining, enrichment, and waste management do. There are many arguments both for and against nuclear power. All in all, I would say that the future of nuclear power looks promising. With new generations of reactors, potential major breakthroughs such as nuclear fusion, the methods we use to harness nuclear energy will get better in the next coming years. The question is: Do we need nuclear power or are the renewables a better choice?
"If you look at the output of the nuclear industry, and if you consider its future relative to other technologies, it looks awfully good relative to some of the other potential technologies and therefore it shouldn't be excluded from consideration," ISA's chief economist Stephen Anthony told The World Today.
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