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Friday, June 21, 2024

Forget Solar & Wind Turbines, Nuclear Power Is The Source That Can Replace Oil In The Future

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The myth that nuclear power is dangerous is just that, a myth. Unfortunately that myth and the movement against nuclear power has people looking to costly and not so dependable wind and solar energy sources.

Many European Countries such as Germany and Spain are totally divesting from nuclear. France is different. It derives about 70% – 75% of its electricity from nuclear energy, due to a long-standing policy based on energy security. Germany on the other hand has no nuclear facilities as of April 2023 they have a mix of solar, wind, fossil fuels to power their country. Spain has limited plants and plans to do away with them entirely in the future.

The issue for every country will be where to put energy production. Wind farms require up to 360 times as much land area to produce the same amount of electricity as a nuclear energy facility, a Nuclear Energy Institute analysis has found. Solar photovoltaic (PV) facilities require up to 75 times the land area.

A 2015 report, “Land Requirements for Carbon-Free Technologies,” compared the land area that various types of electricity generation facilities would require to produce the same amount of electricity as a 1,000-megawatt nuclear power plant in a year. The results highlight the exemplary performance reliability of nuclear energy facilities as well as the very high energy density of nuclear fuel. 

A nuclear energy facility has a small area footprint, requiring about 1.3 square miles per 1,000 megawatts of installed capacity. This figure is based on the median land area of the 59 nuclear plant sites in the United States. In addition, nuclear energy facilities have an average capacity factor of 90 percent, much higher than intermittent sources like wind and solar. **

The potential hazards form nuclear power are real, but just like commercial airline flights a hazardous or deadly situation is extremely rare. From the outset, there has been a strong awareness of the potential hazard of both nuclear criticality and release of radioactive materials from generating electricity with nuclear power. As in other industries, the design and operation of nuclear power plants aims to minimise the likelihood of accidents, and avoid major human consequences when they occur.

There have been two major reactor accidents in the history of civil nuclear power – Chernobyl and Fukushima Daiichi. Chernobyl involved an intense fire without provision for containment, and Fukushima Daiichi severely tested the containment, allowing some release of radioactivity. These are the only major accidents to have occurred in over 18,500 cumulative reactor-years of commercial nuclear power operation in 36 countries.

The evidence over six decades shows that nuclear power is a safe means of generating electricity. The risk of accidents in nuclear power plants is low and declining. The consequences of an accident or terrorist attack are minimal compared with other commonly accepted risks. Radiological effects on people of any radioactive releases can be avoided.

Recently movie producer Oliver Stone made a documentary on nuclear power and he has become a strong proponent of nuclear energy

Electricity generation from commercial nuclear power plants in the United States began in 1958. At the end of 2021, the United States had 93 operating commercial nuclear reactors at 55 nuclear power plants in 28 states. The average age of these nuclear reactors is about 40 years old. The oldest operating reactor, Nine Mile Point Unit 1 in New York, began commercial operation in December 1969. The newest reactor to enter service, Watts Bar Unit 2, came online in 2016—the first reactor to come online since 1996 when the Watts Bar Unit 1 came online. According to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission as of November 2021, there were 23 shut down commercial nuclear power reactors at 19 sites in various stages of decommissioning.

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