Nuclear Fusion

Power of the Future

Nuclear Fusion

Heather Gammon, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Nuclear power offers great promise as an energy solution—but safety and cost concerns are significant barriers to gaining widespread approval of this sort of energy generation. However, many of these concerns are misguided as the majority of critics remain ignorant to the benefits that such clean energy could bring.

No Carbon Emissions
Carbon emissions rose 3 percent in the past 6 months, according to the Energy Information Administration. This is problematic as President Obama announced in late 2014 a target to cut U.S. emissions 26 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. This is significant because it was the first time the president has set a goal beyond the existing 17 percent target by 2020.
This reduction in carbon emissions would only be possible with the adaptation of cleaner energy sources. And nuclear energy by far has the lowest impact on the environment since it does not release carbon dioxide or methane which are largely responsible for greenhouse effect. There is no adverse effect on water, land or any habitats due to the use of it.

Fossil fuels are a Finite Resource.
Fossil fuel reserves are finite – it’s only a matter of when they run out – not if. But how soon? Well according to Forbes, estimates are that there are only about 70 years of fossil fuel resources left and these reserves could very well be depleted as early as the year 2088. Despite this, the US is addicted to petroleum. In fact, 85% of the energy used in America is from a fossil fuel source. It’s clear that our oil-based economy will come tumbling down when there is no more oil to be found. Nuclear energy, on the other hand, has the potential to provide fuel for 1000 years. Obviously nuclear energy, has long lasting reserves, is the much more sustainable fuel; clearly, it is the fuel of the future, the future that we should embrace.

Nuclear Energy is Cost-effective
Contrary to claims by opponents that nuclear energy is too expensive, it is among the most practical forms of power generation today. Nuclear power is the most cost-effective source of zero-carbon power, according to a study done by the Brookings Institution. It found that the cost of producing nuclear-generated electricity in 2010 was 1.7 cents per kilowatt-hour, compared with 2.4 cents for coal, 6.7 cents for natural gas and 10.2 cents for oil. In other words, the cost of nuclear-generated electricity was nearly one-third less than power produced at a natural gas plant.

All methods of producing energy involve risk
The challenges frequently associated with nuclear power—high costs, waste disposal and proliferation risks—can all, from a technological perspective, be managed. Many of these same concerns apply to virtually every means of generating electricity we have. Remember the BP Oil Spill in the the Gulf of Mexico? It had a devastating effect on the ecology of the area, and yet we continue to widespread use of oil. Nuclear energy deserves another go too. People are overly fearful of radiation—the chances of another nuclear reactor meltdown are slim. Besides, waste can be safely stored in the rock tunnels like Yucca, which were specifically dug and constructed in order to contain nuclear waste.

Nuclear energy offers us another way, a way to steer clear of this fossil fuel time bomb. But we must we start now. As the Saudi Oil Minister said in the 1970s, “The Stone Age didn’t end for lack of stone, and the oil age will end long before the world runs out of oil.”