Nuclear energy. Some love it. Many more don’t seem to.
Love it, hate it, but let us ask ourselves a different question: Is nuclear energy a clean source of energy?
If “clean” refers to the amount of greenhouse gases emitted from the core power generation process, nuclear is one of the cleanest energy sources as power generation from nuclear energy emits no CO2! Nuclear power plants, which generate steam with the heat emanating from the nuclear fission taking place in the reactor, releases no CO2, unlike a coal or a natural gas power plant.
However, nuclear has two other environmental challenges. One, the amount of water required to run and cool the plant, and of course the critical issue of the safety of the nuclear waste material!
While the pro-nuclear folks feel that it is just fear-mongering, and that there is really nothing to be alarmed about either of the two challenges mentioned above, the anti-nuclear guys feel that the pro-nuclear group is just being optimistic and not realistic.
The debate continues, on whether nuclear power / energy is safe. But there is no debate on whether it is clean, from a CO2 emissions viewpoint.
IT IS CLEAN.
Now, there are some experts who will not agree with my perspective. Their claim is that there are significant CO2 emissions if you consider the entire operational life cycle of a unit of nuclear energy – nuclear plants have to be constructed, uranium has to be mined, processed and transported, waste has to be stored, and eventually the plant has to be decommissioned. All these actions produce carbon emissions, don’t they, they ask.
I cannot disagree. But then, many of these arguments are true for whatever type of power plant you set up, including solar and wind power plants. Thus, in my opinion, if one wishes to do a practical comparison, we need to compare like-to-like, and for this, we need to focus more on CO2 emissions during the core power generation process.
What are your thoughts on this?