What is the first thing that pops into your head when I say ‘nuclear power’? It’s most likely this…
This public perception about nuclear weapons isn’t really positive. We worry about the safety, the mass production of nuclear weapons and warheads, the cost, the radiation, etc. Renewable energy is being hailed as the ultimate savior of mankind. But, what if the cleanest, safest, cheapest source of energy production have been sitting right in front of us since the 40s?
Nuclear power has immense potential. But what about the downfalls? What about the safety? Well the figures may shock you, as they shocked me. The most dangerous of the bunch are, to no one’s surprise, the fossil fuels. Coal comes out on top with 1,00,000 deaths per Petawatt Hour, then oil at 36,000 deaths per Petawatt Hour, then Biomass with 24,000 deaths per Petawatt Hour, natural gas at 4,000 deaths per Petawatt Hour. And that’s not even the millions who die from air pollution each year from all these sources. But it is the carbon neutral sources that have the most interesting figures. Hydro, 1400 (side note: hydro actually secretly produces a significant amount of carbon dioxide) solar 440 deaths and wind 150 deaths(even though there are no completely reliable data here, more data is needed). Its what at the very bottom of the list however, that may surprise you. Nuclear is just 90 deaths per Petawatt Hour, and that includes Chernobyl, Fukushima and Three Mile Island. That makes it statistically the safest form of energy according to our current technology. Nuclear fission is big and scary, but it has so many benefits that cannot simply be ignored.
- Nuclear power plants produce zero carbon emissions.
- Their only byproduct is nuclear waste, but unlike byproducts of all other forms of energy production, this is completely contained and doesn’t leak out into the environment, nuclear waste can also be recycled and reused in reactors multiple times.
It’s important to note however that the Uranium mining and enrichment processes do use fossil fuels and this does produce CO2. But averaging it out over the entire life cycle of a power plant, a single reactor and all it’s supporting industries, produces a mere 65 grams of CO2 per kWh per year taking into consideration maintenance and manufacturing. It could be even lower! Since 1987, Russia and the US have been mutually decommissioning their nuclear weapons.
This creates a steady influx of already highly-enriched Uranium fuel that can be used by nuclear power plants to create energy, completely bypassing uranium mining and enrichment and thus bypassing CO2 emissions. Skeptics believe that nuclear power plants lead to nuclear weapon proliferation, but in fact, it’s the complete opposite – the absolute best way to reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the world is by building more nuclear reactors.
What if it could produce little to no waste and be completely safe and meltdown proof?
Well, maybe it can.
(To be continued)