You are on page 1of 4

Derwick Associates on using Nuclear power

With an energy crisis unlike nothing seen before looming on the horizon, scientists, politicians, and engineers scramble to find a solution. At Derwick Associates we believe that alternative energy, which utilizes limitedly used renewable energy sources, may be the world’s saving grace. Wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, and even water have become or are in the process of becoming viable alternative energy sources. Another potential source for energy in the future is nuclear power. Nuclear power uses energy created from nuclear fission, a highly kinetic reaction that splits atoms. This energy heats water, creating steam. This steam, in turn, powers a turbine, which produces electrical power. Nuclear power is a nonrenewable energy source, meaning its fuel is limited in quantity. Regardless, nuclear power has the potential to completely eradicate the global need for renewable energy. At Derwick Associates we know that nuclear energy is particularly useful because it does not emit any carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, or any nitrogen oxides, all of which are harmful to the Earth’s atmosphere ("United States Environmental Protection Agency"). Carbon dioxide, in particular, is a major contributor to global warming, a phenomena that is quickly warming our planet ("American Institute of Physics"). Nuclear energy also has the benefit of being densely energetic. A pellet of Uranium the size of an adult’s pinky finger contains as much energy as 1,780 pounds of coal or 149 gallons of crude oil. Furthermore, the energy produced by a single, confined nuclear power plant would require up to 180 square miles of wind turbines or 60 square miles of solar panels ("Idaho National Laboratory"). Finally, nuclear power can be used at all times of the day, in any weather condition, and in all parts of the country. Solar power and wind power, on the other hand, rely on strong, consistent sunlight and wind to operate. In the United States, sun energy this reliable is usually only found in the Southwest ("United States Department of Energy"). Wind useful for wind energy is only found in the Midwest ("U.S. Department of Energy: Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy"). Like all currently used energy sources, nuclear power has disadvantages. For one, it produces deadly, radioactive material as a by-product. These by-products take an incredibly long time to decay, often thousands of years. For that reason, nuclear waste has to be stored in areas far away from civilization. Improperly stored nuclear waste can poison water tables and damage local ecosystems. This and other problems caused a general lack of support from the public, the second disadvantage of nuclear power. Poor public reception also results from a perception that nuclear power is inherently dangerous. Because of the nuclear accidents at Three Mile Island in 1979 and Chernobyl in 1986, many feel that all nuclear plants are susceptible to disasters, as well. While nuclear power has become safer over time, it is still vulnerable to disaster today ("Parliament of Australia: Parliamentary Library"). A final problem with nuclear power is its often overwhelming cost. Per megawatt, nuclear power is cheaper than natural gas and coal (Dunston 3). However, construction and decommissioning costs for nuclear plants are extremely high. A nuclear power plant may cost as much as $4.1 billion to decommission ("Nuclear Energy Information Service").

At Derwick Associates we hope that by the time the energy crisis is in full swing, the world will have found a solution. Still, nuclear power remains a potential source of energy in the future. Nuclear power, in the end, has an equal amount of advantages and disadvantages. For that reason, tomorrow’s leaders will have to decide if nuclear power is a reliable source of energy. Only time will tell what energy source the planet uses in the future. Leopoldo Alejandro Betancourt Lopez

Works Cited "Benefits of Nuclear Power." Idaho National Laboratory. Idaho National Laboratory, n.d. Web. 26 Nov 2011. Dunston, Roger. California. Research Bureau . Benefits and Risks of Nuclear Power in California. 2002. Web. "Nuclear." Parliament of Australia: Parliamentary Library. Parliament of Australia, 01 Sep 2011. Web. 26 Nov 2011. "Nuclear Energy." United States Environmental Protection Agency. United States Environmental Protection Agency, 08 Mar 2010. Web. 26 Nov 2011. "Renewable Energy." United States Department of Energy: Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. N.p., 04 Dec 2010. Web. 26 Nov 2011. "Solar." United States Department of Energy. United States Department of Energy, n.d. Web. 26 Nov 2011. "Some Important Facts About Nuclear Power." Nuclear Energy Information Service. Nuclear Energy Information Service, 31 Aug 2004. Web. 26 Nov 2011.

"The Carbon Dioxide Greenhouse Effect." American Institute of Physics. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Nov 2011. "Wind Powering America: 80-Meter Wind Maps and Wind Resource Potential." U.S. Department of Energy: Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. United States Department of Energy, 19 Oct 2011. Web. 26 Nov 2011.