Alternative to Fossil Fuels

Every year, there are countless numbers of debates on what should be done about the modern energy crisis. There is also an extra emphasis on what form of energy production is the most efficient, cheapest, and especially what is best for the environment. In the background, a form of energy, containing all of the above and which is also safer, is slowly becoming more apparent. This is known as nuclear energy. Nuclear energy should not be feared by people; instead the idea should be praised. If mankind allows this energy to go to waste, there will be major regret in the future.

Since the industrial revolution, the search for the best way to produce energy has been a constant topic in the human race. The most common form of energy comes from the use of fossil fuels. While efficient and widespread, these fossil fuels can become very expensive since much of the business is owned by a small number of companies. They also release vast amounts of carbon dioxide when used and commonly cause pollution in large cities. As time goes on, more and more people are starting to become concerned with whether or not emission from fossil fuels will have negative effects in the long run. However, clean solutions also exist despite these solutions having problems of their own.

There are also renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, and hydroelectric. While these sources are clean and fairly cheap, once initial installation costs are paid for, they can struggle with efficiency. In order to be effective, they require taking vast areas of space and filling them with hulking metal or concrete structures largely out of place in the environment surrounding them. They also require constant upkeep and maintenance in order for them to work properly.

Nuclear energy, however, is starting to catch the attention of many countries and companies around the world since there are little to no problems in efficiency, environmental friendliness, or price. As more research comes out on the topic, people slowly start to realize more about how much potential the idea has. In fact, many countries are already starting to develop their own organizations to improve current ideas and develop ways to make the energy source widespread. Currently, there are thirty-one countries containing nuclear power plants in operating conditions. Unsurprisingly, there is a multitude of other countries who are in the process of trying to build their own in order to take advantage of the source.

A big upside to nuclear energy is the surprisingly low amount of money needed for how much energy is produced. While construction costs for power plants may seem high, they actually pay for themselves because of how cheap they are to actually run. Countries are also able to build them wherever they want in comparison to fossil fuels where deposits must first be found on owned land. If fossil fuel deposits are not found, countries must buy the product from other countries who have large amounts. These countries usually charge high prices and also have high shipping costs since many are distant from many large countries. Nuclear power plants can be owned and controlled by governments as well, where many fossil fuels and renewable energy sources are privately owned and operated. One may argue this is not a problem since all companies pay taxes. While this is true, cutting out a middleman always cuts the cost of a product, even in the energy field. In fact, one article claims, “The U.S. saves $12 billion dollars each year for energy costs because of nuclear power” (“Nuclear Power”, 2014, n.p.). Money saved from this could be used to solve unique problems each country faces on a day to day basis. In turn, this could do much more than just solve the energy crisis. With more money, countries could also focus on issues directly affecting their citizens and those in need. Fewer people in need means more people contributing to society, which will only make the world grow.

A big controversy with nuclear energy is whether or not the process of creating power plants is efficient for the economy. Surprisingly, while the process has been researched less than other energy sources, nuclear energy is already efficient by nature. This is because the energy in power plants comes from heavy elements such as Uranium. These elements contain very high atomic masses which allows them to release large amounts of energy without taking up much space. In fact, a fingertip size of uranium contains as much energy as 149 gallons of oil or 17,000 cubic feet of natural gas. Along with this, uranium used in nuclear reactors usually are stored in twelve foot long tubes filled with these tiny pellets lasting six years while other sources are used up rather quickly. Nuclear reactors also last longer than alternative energy source producing buildings. According to Baraniuk, “Erecting enough solar panels or wind turbines to match the output of a nuclear plant would take up vast tracts of land. They also only last around 25 years, rather than the 60 or more offered by atom-smashers” (2018, n.p.).With this, less space is used and constant rebuilding is avoided. With more land available, more businesses and operations can be built and run whether they are private or government owned. More businesses lead to more opportunities for jobs and for more money to be circulated throughout which in the end encourage economic growth.

More now than before, people are conscious about the environment around us. There is a special emphasis on global warming where there is a common belief in fossil fuel emissions being the cause. Environmentalists now are demanding governments find a new energy source to prevent further damage. While clean solutions are out there, they are not efficient. However, nuclear energy, despite what many people think, is actually a very clean source of energy since reactors release little to no emissions. According to the Nuclear Energy Institute, “Every year, nuclear-generated electricity saves our atmosphere from more than 555 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions that would otherwise come from fossil fuels. That’s the same as taking 117 million passenger vehicles off the road” (“Climate”, n.d., n.p.). Nuclear energy is also environmentally friendly due to the fact they do not require altering natural habitats to be created such as to hydroelectric energy which requires large dams to be built in the middle of flowing regions of water which largely affects local wildlife. All nuclear energy requires is an open space of land as one would for any other building. No wildlife is affected since no wildlife requires Uranium. Also, the only waste given off constantly in reactors is steam from water. Sadly, some people still disagree with nuclear energy.

While there are many pros to nuclear energy, many people argue if this source becomes well established there will be various negative side effects unable to be undone. Many people believe radiation from reactors will slowly decay the surrounding environment. On the contrary, one article states: “Domestically, we know that nuclear power gives us reliable electricity supply at scale, supplying one-fifth of all our power production, and that nearly two-thirds of our country’s pollution-free and carbon-dioxide-free energy comes from these facilities” (Ellis & Schultz, 2018, pg. 140). From this, nuclear power plants seem to be not uncommon as many imply since they already produce much of the percentage of clean energy today. There have additionally been fewer deaths related to nuclear energy than any other energy source available today. Overall, arguments saying nuclear power plants are dangerous have little to no proof to support the claim.

In the long run, nuclear energy is humanity’s best bet at a reliable source of energy and should not worry people. Being more efficient compared to what is currently available. Has low-cost numbers. Most importantly, has little to no effect on the surrounding environment. With more focus and study, nuclear energy will hopefully become a well agreed upon energy source able to serve mankind for centuries to come.