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Comparing Nuclear Energy To Other Energies Resources Environmental Sciences Essay

This survey contains home elevators five different kinds of energy options. It is a literature study that compares two renewable (solar and wind flow) resources and two non-renewable (coal and natural gas) sources to nuclear energy. The contrast is dependant on factors such as consumption, cost (both capital costs and jogging costs), security and stability, storage space of misuse and the impact on the surroundings. The resources are individually in comparison to nuclear energy. Inside the comparisons only the factors highly relevant to both energy resources being compared at any given time are believed factors are not repeated in the evaluation. It also looks at whether the media's portrayal of the risks of nuclear energy is correct or whether it overestimates the problems involved with producing nuclear electric power. The aim of the survey was to look for the viability of nuclear energy as a way to obtain power to support electricity needs of the populace in the foreseeable future.

This is a books study dealing with the portrayal of nuclear energy by the advertising and its own viability as an energy source in comparison to other ways of producing electricity. The record compares Nuclear energy to energy generated by coal, natural gases, wind flow and sunlight (i. e. solar technology). The types are independently compared to Nuclear energy. Each section highlights specific problems and advantages associated with Nuclear energy as it pertains to the vitality to which it is being compared. Factors taken into account are the costs involved with the various types of energy, how much it is being used globally, impact on the environment, storage of waste, basic safety and balance. The record was written to meet up with the requirements laid down by JSQ216, a second year engineering subject matter at the University or college of Pretoria.

The statement was completed by allocating each one of the four group associates a particular energy to research and compare to nuclear energy. The research was then completed by using journal articles, literature, internet sites and nearing two engineers about the condition. The information was prepared, the trustworthiness of the sources assessed and a short part of the report was made by each group member. All parts were then come up with for the final report.

Figure 1: Breakdown of solar energy[2]The sunshine has been around since the start of your energy but only recently has it been used as a way to obtain renewable energy. Around 120000 TW of solar energy is absorbed by the Earth's surface which is add up to 10000 times the full total global demand for energy. Only 0. 1% of the energy would be asked to meet the world's present use of fuels. [1]

There are three main ways to harness the suns energy. Included in these are solar cells which convert natural light directly into electricity. Solar water heating where high temperature from sunlight is employed to heat drinking water inside panels on roof tops. And last but not least solar furnaces that employ mirrors to focus the suns energy into a small space to create high temperature. As illustrated by body 1.

There are close to 440 nuclear vitality plants nowadays which supply 16% of the world's energy demand, however only 1% is useable energy with the others being nuclear waste products. If 1% of the area where there is recoverable energy utilised solar technology devices all the world's energy needs could be fulfilled with solar energy only. If 10% of the region were to be utilised then in two years the electricity produced would be add up to all known reserves of fossil fuels. [1]

Cost issues with solar energy will be the high capital costs mixed up in installation of solar panels which is often very expensive. The necessity to store energy because of solar availability due to factors such as time of day and weather conditions is also costly. Countries at higher altitudes with daily cloud cover will own an economic disadvantage anticipated to long distance copy of energy. Maintenance of panels also must be considered. Nuclear energy is presently cheaper than solar powered energy however the structure of the facilities and the disposal of radioactive throw away is costly and make a difference the surroundings. [3]

Solar vitality is relatively safe to use as long as you do not look straight into the sun's rays or come into contact with hot solar power panels. Regarding nuclear power additionally it is safe to use as the nuclear reactors include redundant systems to be sure there is absolutely no nuclear meltdown. This helps it be a very stable power source. Nuclear energy begins to obtain additional dangerous by means of spent gasoline rods and radioactive waste products. Even though nuclear energy is reliable and stable as a whole, when something will go wrong it may become very serious and very dangerous.

Solar energy does not have any form of waste as substituted panels and components can be reused or recycled. Nuclear energy has two types of waste material, the spent fuel rods which if not stored properly in pools of normal water to cool off could become very unstable. The other form is radioactive gasses and other waste material that if released into the atmosphere can pose various hazards.

Solar energy produces no waste material or pollution. Waste materials from nuclear ability must be closed and stored underground for long periods of time. This throw away must be kept safe from exterior factors and from human contact in order to prevent a danger.

Such a menace happens to be under way at the Fukushima Daiichi electric power herb in Japan in which a pool of spent gas rods trapped fire this season.

Solar electricity is a renewable power source therefore it is environmentally friendly. It really is silent and requires no petrol therefore there is absolutely no pollution. It even decreases the amount of harmful green house gasses. Although there are numerous advantages to solar technology there is still the actual fact that a big amount of panels must produce the needed electricity. This becomes very costly. It really is reliable and has no risks that are associated with nuclear energy. Nuclear energy on the other hand is not a renewable source and if not handled in the right way could impact the surroundings in a poor way. Though it does not contribute to global warming like other fossil fuels, the waste gasses it does produce could potentially cause radioactive sicknesses and tumor in humans and other life forms.

A conclusion of the advantages and cons of solar and nuclear energy can be found in the desks below

Table 1: Advantages of Solar and Nuclear Energy

Solar Energy

Nuclear Energy

Renewable energy source

Does not emit garden greenhouse gasses

Has no volatile waste

Plenty of resources available

Once panels are set up the power is free

Cheaper than solar power

Table 2: Cons of Solar and Nuclear Energy

Solar Energy

Nuclear Energy

Does not work at night

Radioactive waste

Currently very expensive

Long-term storage necessary for waste products

Requires big domains to be able to harvest the right amount of energy

Some reactors produce plutonium which can be used to make nuclear weapons

All around the world we require every power source that we can get including nuclear. All energy options have both pros and cons. Even though nuclear energy is portrayed as an unstable source of energy it is actually one of the most reliable and stable types nowadays. The downside is within its waste material that if treated incorrectly could land in the hands of terrorists. In the next 20 years there will be appearing economies throughout the globe that will require low cost, green alternative energy resources and Nuclear ability is expected to gratify this demand.

Wind Energy

Wind vitality is the technology of electricity through the use of blowing wind to spin turbines, which in turn, convert the wind's kinetic energy into electricity. [1] The process of using wind flow as a electric power source has been in use throughout background from round the 12th century where windmills were used to mill grain. [2]

Wind power era uses wind generators to make electricity, wind flow mills for mechanical electricity and wind flow pumps for pumping water. [2] It really is a renewable energy source that not many countries have attemptedto develop.

Wind Ability Worldwide June 2010 [3]





36. 3


33. 8


26. 4


19. 5


12. 1

Rest of the World

46. 9


175. 00Table 3: Blowing wind Ability Worldwide June 2010

In June 2010, THE ENTIRE WORLD Wind Energy Connection (WWEA) shared that 5 countries by themselves accounted for about 73% of the world's total wind flow energy production specifically USA, China, Germany, Spain and India. [3]

Figure 2: World Electricity Development 2008

On the other palm, nuclear energy creation appears to be a lot more popular in a great deal of countries with some countries like the USA and France having no less than 104 and 59 nuclear reactors in procedure respectively [4] in early on 2010.

A study done in 2008 to get the percentage of every type of energy that is globally produced revealed that wind forms part of only 2. 8% whereas nuclear energy makes up about 13. 4% of the world's total vitality.

The main downside of wind electricity is the unreliability of the breeze itself. Generally in most areas the wind's power is too low to spin a turbine. However, if blowing wind energy were to be utilized in unison with solar and/or geothermal energy maybe it's developed into a well balanced and reliable source of power. The wind generators themselves are very safe with only a few reported instances worldwide of destroyed blades caused by inclement weather, none of which has led to any known injuries. [5]

Nuclear reactor plants utilize radioactive materials to generate electricity. The idea that these materials could become unstable and escape control is one of the key concerns (along with radiation poisoning) for countries producing nuclear energy. The Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986 business lead to better, more efficient protocols being apply going out of most countries to believe that they are actually better prepared to handle any destabilizing of the nuclear materials. [6]

Nonetheless, breeze energy remains theoretically a great deal safer than nuclear vegetation despite having all the safe practices precautions they take. The results are higher for a nuclear disaster than for a wind turbine failure.

Wind turbines do not emit any waste products as they do not burn any sort of fossil fuels or radioactive materials, so there is absolutely no concern over where you can store or get rid of emissions carefully- unlike nuclear energy. The radioactive materials (like Uranium and Plutonium) that are used up in nuclear vitality plants continue steadily to produce dangerous radiation for a large number of years after they have been used up as a fuel for nuclear energy. The simplest way to store these depleted materials has not yet been found but also for now they can be being stored in underground storage area pools where they'll not be bad for anybody. [7]

The preliminary setups of both wind generators and nuclear electric power plants are quite costly. But once built, wind generators are cheaper to keep up than the power plants, nevertheless they are both relatively cheaper to keep than their fossil gasoline counterparts with the nuclear materials sustained a long time and with wind flow being a free source to be used.

Environmental Impact:

Both blowing wind and nuclear energy as it is being produced, is friendly to the encompassing environment (except in the tragic case where radiation is leaked from the power seed). However, wind generators do make more noise than the power plants which is disruptive to any local people staying close to the turbines. [8]

The amount of space a wind turbine calls for is less than that of an average nuclear power flower and the disruption to the surroundings during structure is worse for the energy plant life because they take so a lot longer to be built. [8]

Coal Energy

Coal, the most abundant and affordable of the fossil fuels (1), is a non-renewable power source. It's been used as a source of energy for a large number of years and has numerous important uses such as in electricity generation, metal and cement produce, and commercial process home heating. Coal often proves to be the only alternative when low-cost, cleaner energy options cannot meet up with the growing energy demand confronted with today (1).

Fossil fuels are produced from the organic and natural remains of prehistoric crops and animals that have undergone changes scheduled to high temperature and pressure over an incredible number of years. The process is still taking place today however the rate of energy storage area is small. The gross annual biomass creation stored this way symbolizes only around 0. 001% of the existing world energy use (2). Despite the fact that charcoal can be made artificially, it is not possible to create it at the pace of ingestion (3). Therefore, coal is regarded as a non-renewable energy source and is bound to get depleted. Matching to BP's (English Petroleum) Statistical Overview of World Energy 2010, there is a projected 826001 million a great deal of proven coal reserves worldwide, or 119 years reserves-to-production ratio(amount of time that the rest of the coal reserves would carry on if creation were to continue at the prior year's rate )(4). However, in comparison to other fossil fuels, coal reserves will be the most significant ones and tend to be evenly distributed worldwide.

Nuclear energy is also a non-renewable source as it is reliant after a finite way to obtain fuel that may be exhausted. Although, the world's known uranium resources increased by 15% in two years to 2007 owing to increased mineral exploration The uranium (and sometimes plutonium) found in nuclear ability is an all natural resource and is also a common metal found in rocks all over the world. THE ENTIRE WORLD Nuclear Association recommended that there is about (13) 160 many years of resource at today's rate of utilization.

Coal is principally used as a solid fuel to produce electricity and warmth. The coal is usually pulverized and then combusted in a furnace with a boiler for the technology of electricity. The steam which results from the combustion is then used to spin turbines, which drives the generators thus creating electricity. When coal is warmed at approximately 1000 diplomas Celsius in an airless environment, Coke is produced. The Coke is then used is used to smelt iron ore for the creation of metal.

A by-product of this heating up is Coal gas, which really is a composition of methane and hydrogen, is produced. Coal gas was used for home lighting and food preparation in the 1940s; but it was too costly therefore it was ended. However, in recent times, these gasification functions are being developed to be more cost effective and so coal gas is often used as gas for engines.

Nuclear power crops create electricity through an activity called fission where subatomic allergens called neutrons split uranium atoms, producing huge levels of energy. The result of the fission of these large atoms is the creation of smaller atoms and radiation. The produced is then utilized by water which heats it and so stream is produced. The steam is then used to spin turbines as in the event with coal electricity plants.

According to the Key World Energy Statistics 2010 (5), 27% of the worldwide energy demand was fulfilled by coal in 2009 2009. Coal was the next largest source of energy accompanied by Oil supplying 33. 2%. China is a major company with coal with coal always participating in a dominant role in its primary energy intake. China consumed a higher 46, 9% of the coal offered and produced the most coal (45, 6%) based on the BP Statistical World Energy Review 2010.

World main energy demand is expected to continue to grow steadily, as it offers over the

last two decades According to the International Energy View 2010 (an evaluation by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) of the outlook for international energy market segments through 2035), world intake of coal increases by 56% over another two decades(6).

Nuclear energy supplies the world 5. 8% of the world's consumption which is significantly less than a quarter of what coal equipment. That is expected as there are just 442 operable nuclear power stations world-wide, the first one being created about 50 years ago which is relatively recent.

The removal of coal includes two types of mining: surface (remove) mining and underground

mining. Surface mining requires the removal of coal deposits close to earth's surface whereas underground mining is taking away deposits found hundreds of meters below the earth's surface. Underground mining accounts to approximately 60% of the world's coal development (7) and requires the creation of shafts and tunnels that are dug into the coal layers. There have been numerous tragic occurrences in the annals of coal mining as it is a very dangerous business and devastating accidents occur in all countries that produce commercial levels of this mineral. Most mining incidents occur therefore of cave-ins, methane explosions, mine wall membrane failures, vehicle collisions or the flooding of the mine shafts. Also suffocation, gas poisoning, respiratory disorders (mainly Dark Lung Disease) were common. Over 100, 000 miners have dies within the last century in coal-mining damages in the U. S (2nd greatest producers of coal) only (8). However, most of these risks have been reduced in present-day mines owing to modern tools and health and safety acts placing stricter criteria. Nevertheless, in less developed countries plus some developing countries, continue to experience significant numbers of mining fatalities each year.

The great quantity of coal makes it easy to get at and the utilization of cheaper settings of transportation makes this source of information a cheap form of energy in comparison with energies such as solar, wind or hydro. Additionally it is somewhat cheaper than the costs involved with producing nuclear energy. When you compare the economics in producing energy from these two sources, it's important to consider several different types costs associated with both coal and nuclear energy.

This includes costs from the fuel used in the production of energy which tend to be lower in a nuclear vegetable even though more intricate steps are involved in the production of the fuel assemblies used in the reactors. Transportation costs are, however, high for coal because a significantly large amount of coal is required to generate the same energy as with the nuclear gasoline.

The capital costs will be the costs associated with the initial construction of the flower and the modifications sorts an important part when comparing the costs. For just a nuclear herb, these costs are usually higher than for any other energy forms as the properties used for containment or the safety-related equipment need to meet higher requirements than those achieved by traditional coal crops. Alternatively, coal plants must include scrubbers to eliminate airborne pollutants consequently of the using up of the coal.

Another factor is the operation and maintenance costs involved. These are the expenses involved in the day-to-day procedure of the coal and nuclear crops. This includes labour costs, materials costs, administration fees and property fees. It really is found that the expenses are incredibly similar in both the plants.

The costs associated with the by-product waste also needs to be taken into account. For the coal plants, this is actually the coal ash as well as for a nuclear plant, these costs include a demand levied by the government for ultimate storage of the high level waste. This fee is a set fee predicated on energy use. The waste products costs for nuclear energy is substantially higher than the expenses for coal crops.

Thus, the expenses involved with producing coal and nuclear energy are approximately the same (9).

The burning of coal may donate to global warming, and is also associated with environmental and medical issues such as acid rainwater, smog and asthma owing to the particulate emissions that are emitted from power stations. Based on the World Health Organisation, it's estimated that polluting of the environment kills more than 2 million people annually (10). Coal is the major contributor to the human-made increase of CO2, a greenhouse gas which causes global warming and weather change in the air (11). Remove mining causes large areas of land to be temporarily disturbed which causes land erosion and influences on local biodiversity as after the land has been scraped and quarried for coal, it is almost always abandoned. The waste after coal has been combusted is often disposed of in landfills or "surface impoundments, " which can be lined with compacted clay garden soil and a cheap sheet. As rainwater filter systems through the poisonous ash pits over years, the harmful metals are leached out in to the local environment. Coal sludge is the liquid coal waste materials generated by washing coal and may contain toxins, therefore leaks or spills can pollute underground and surface waters. (12)

Natural Gas Energy

The GAS used in vitality development is a colourless, odourless and tasteless gas made generally of methane and other hydrocarbons (including ethane, propane, butanes and pentanes). It also contains carbon dioxide, helium, hydrogen sulphide and nitrogen, in smaller quantities. Natural gas is a molecular mixture with Van Der Waal attraction between its molecules[1]. It has a boiling point of -161oC which is stable at a wide variety of temperatures and stresses[1]. Gas is transported in its liquid form as it taken up 600 times less space as a water than it does as a gas and weighs in at 55% significantly less than the same level of water. It really is due to the decomposition of plants and pets or animals and is found in pockets beneath the earth and sea.

Natural gas is an important way to obtain power in the modern world. According to Makogen (2010:49) if we were to use 17 to 20% of the world's natural gas resources, we would be able to supply the world with energy for 200 years. Although it currently only accounts for 20% of the world's energy, the demand is likely to increase significantly over the next 20 years. It is a cleaner energy source than any other fossil petrol[2] emitting almost no sulphur dioxide and far less skin tightening and and NHx than either olive oil or coal. Natural gases can be used in conjunction with other electricity generation methods, such as biomass[3], to produce energy which will change the amount of pollutants emitted.

Nuclear stations do not produce the same pollutants as fossil fuels do but waste management remains the primary matter in nuclear technology. The waste products of a nuclear train station are isotopes with extremely long half-lives. The storage space of these waste material means setting up a safe space for storage that must last longer than all the individuals civilisations combined. A couple of three different degrees of nuclear waste, high level, medium level and low level. Low level waste material is not very dangerous and losing it isn't a problem. The danger comes in with high level radioactive waste materials. The waste material is encased in concrete drums and buried up to a kilometre and a half in to the ground[5]. However, high level radioactive waste cannot be stored near some other higher level radioactive waste as it will interact with the other waste materials. Additionally it is important to find secure ground in which to store the misuse, as concrete can split and break in case of an earthquake or tremor. South Africa is one of the safer places to store nuclear waste materials as it has a geologically steady countryside. Some areas, like the northern Karoo, have observed about 30 000 many years of stability. In between removing the waste materials from use and the ultimate storage of the waste products it requires to be kept to soak in normal water for a period of time, to eliminate some of the residual radiation. In this time around the gasoline rods have to be safely and securely guarded as the waste products are used in the creation of grubby bombs and nuclear bombs. A soiled bomb is a standard bomb containing advanced radioactive waste which is detonated above a city, allowing the radioactive allergens to contaminate the resource in addition to other damage. [5]Plutonium, one of the waste material of the nuclear power station, is female element in atom bombs and the rods frequently have to be refined to eliminate all plutonium before they could be disposed. The utilization to which the waste material can be utilized does mean that measures need to be taken in making certain any country with a nuclear electricity station does not use the waste materials in a nuclear weapons program. In addition, it leaves a country more vulnerable to nuclear attack as should a filthy or atom bomb land near a nuclear train station the products of both would react with one another, compounding damage.

The waste materials from a nuclear station can be greatly reduced by the right management of the place but it still remains a serious threat. Cold fusion could theoretically produce energy without radioactive misuse but experiments with frosty fusion have produced very little energy, not enough to power a lamp. Chilly fusion is also regarded as a scam by many researchers and gets the same notoriety as "perpetual motion" and "free energy" in many medical circles[9].

The degree of efficiency of natural gas as a power source is, however, very much reliant on the technology used to create the power. Within a comparability of different systems[4] it was found that Natural Gas put together pattern technology was the most efficient of the GAS technologies. The solutions were compared based on efficiency, capital costs, maintenance costs, the service life and electricity costs (computed based on the price tag on the petrol, the maintenance costs, capital cost and service life). The capital costs of the put together routine technology were just over 500 with an expected maintenance cost of less than 0. 005 per kilo Watt hour and a service life of 20 years (i. e. enough time the plant manages before equipment needs to be substituted. ) A nuclear station has to replace its 1 / 3 of its gasoline rods annually[5]

Comparatively, a nuclear station's capital costs are higher than any other gasoline source[6] however they produce electricity at an extremely low cost which offsets the original high cost. This is seen in body 2, below, which shows an evaluation of the cost to generate energy for various solutions. The expense of ability from a nuclear place also tends to remain stable[7] even if the price of uranium varies as up top 75% of the petrol cost in a nuclear place is to cover the start-up cost. Alternatively, natural gas prices are incredibly dependent on the supply therefore prices tend to vary. Gas is also at the mercy of carbon taxes in some countries because of its emissions, which reduces its cost efficiency.

Figure 3: Cost of Energy Technology for Different Technologies

Location also plays an essential role in determining whether or not gas or nuclear energy is the most effective solution of a country. A country that is loaded in fossil fuels and will not pay carbon fees would discover that natural gas was a far more ideal technology. However, when it is needed to transfer natural gases, the supply security of the plant becomes affected and it Nuclear may be considered a more financially practical option.

Both Nuclear and GAS sources have the advantages of being able to supply on demand. Most alternative energy resources are offered by using an as-available basis[8]. Which means that you do not need to perform a coal train station alongside a nuclear place in case it generally does not produce enough energy to meet demand.


Media is inappropriate in portrayal, too extreme but nonetheless not safe

Waste removal is dangerous, consideration as to safe-keeping facilities

Safety, security

Vulnerability to nuclear attack

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