I’ve always been a supporter of nuclear power. It’s, at worst, a stop gap solution to our current energy problems, but at best, the solution to all our energy problems in the future. The current problem with nuclear is the radioactive waste it produces. Actually, most of the waste it produces is relatively non-toxic, and can be safely stored or even dumped in hazardous waste dumps. However there is a very small amount of highly radioactive waste that arises from the use of uranium, called High Level Waste. This accounts for over ninety five percent of the radiation produced in a nuclear reactor.
The problem with storing High Level Waste is that there is no currently know metal that will withstand the radiation and heat from the waste without corroding. Once we have a solution to storing or destroying HLW, nuclear power will be on par with some of the cleanest energy sources around.
If every country in the world was to switch to nuclear power, there would be enough fuel to last thousands of years. Compare this to the bleak outlook for fossil fuels, with many projections predicting major supply problems within thirty years. In my opinion, building new power stations relying on fuel that doesn’t have a stable future is money wasted.
If we’re talking emmisions here, I don’t think any other non-renewable source is as clean as nuclear. Of course there still are some emissions, but they’re so low it’s not worth worrying about. You could list cleaner fossil fuel burning stations, such as clean coal, but the costs involved in developing and building such a plant completely eliminates any advantages it has over nuclear.
Of course, there are always renewable energy sources. I want to make it clear that I am not against renewable energy sources at all. I just don’t think they are the answer to our energy problems. There’s no way to build enough wind farms in the UK to power the entirety of it, geothermal is a joke (and anyone suggesting it as a viable energy source in the UK is an idiot), and with the amount of sun light we get, solar is out of the window.
Renewable energy sources also aren’t completely damage free to the enviroment, need I point out the Three Gorges Dam, and I’ll quote directly from the Wikipedia article:
Although hydro-electric power is a renewable energy, the creation of large reservoirs can generate considerable quantities of greenhouse gases, including substantial amounts of methane, due to micro biotic activity.
Huge reservoirs by their nature alter the ecosystem and threaten some habitats while helping other habitats. The Chinese River Dolphin and the Chinese Paddlefish, for example, are on the edge of extinction and will lose habitat and suffer divided populations to the dam. Of the 3,000 to 4,000 remaining critically endangered Siberian Crane, approximately 95% currently winter in wetlands that will be destroyed by the Three Gorges Dam.
All I’m saying, is that relying completely on renewable sources is not a viable solution, and nuclear combined with renewable sources is our answer in filling the gap where fossil fuels used to lie.
I’d like it to be noted that I’m no expert on nuclear power, and although I have tried to check my facts with knowledgeable people and Wikipedia; it remains entirely my own opinion.