10 Biggest Disadvantages of Nuclear Energy

  • Raw material
    • Safety measures needed to prevent the harmful levels of radiation from uranium.
  • Fuel Availability
    • The extraction of uranium is a very lengthy process especially because uranium is a scarce resource.
  • High Cost
    • Building new nuclear plants is a huge investment, especially for developing countries. That being said, the nuclear option may not be viable for majority of the countries on the planet.
    • They also take between 5-10 years to build.
  • Nuclear Waste
    • Failure to properly contain nuclear waste can lead to contamination from the radioactive byproduct.
  • Risk of Shutdown Reactors
    • Sometimes nuclear reactors get shut down, and these facilities are too large and unstable to remove. From this, they take up precious land space and have the potential to contaminate surrounding areas.
  • Impact on Human Life
    • Even years, or decades after  nuclear catastrophes such as Five Mile Island and Fukushima, the impact on human life remains observed.
    • Children are still born with physical and neurological defects from the radiation caused by these events.
  • Nuclear Power a Non Renewable Resource
    • Due to the limited supply of uranium and the hazardous effects it has, nuclear power cannot be classified as a renewable resource.
    • Some do claim that it is a clean form of energy due to the lessened emissions of fossil fuels.
  • National Risks
    • Another argument against nuclear power lies in the risk of the misuse of nuclear energy. Such as in the production of weapons and bombs.

Resources:

Eubanks, William E. “10 Disadvantages to Nuclear Energy.” 10 Disadvantages to Nuclear Energy, 20 Dec. 2016, www.greenandgrowing.org/disadvantages-of-nuclear-energy/.

Reducing Costs of Nuclear Power

  • In 2003, a study was done by scientists at M.IT. presenting plausible ways in which nuclear power plants could reduce their costs.
  • It is well known that nuclear reactors cost more money per kilowatt-hour than both gas and coal plants.
  • Generally, a nuclear plants costs about 6.7 cents per kilowatt-hour where coal and gas-powered plants lie between 4.2 and 5.8 cents per kilowatt-hour.
  • However, new technologies hope to be able to reduce the costs of construction by 25% which would then bring the total cost of electricity down to 5.5 cents per kilowatt-hour.
  • Furthermore, reducing the construction time of a plant from five to four years, would save another 0.4 cents per kilowatt-hour.
  • And if policy and government regulations were to change and cost the same as for a gas or coal plant, the cost of electricity for a nuclear plant would become equivalent to that of coal or gas.
  • However, all these proposed reductions in cost are plausible, especially if the nuclear industry expands, but have not yet been proved…
  • The most feasible way that the price of nuclear power were to be more favorable economically, would be if carbon emissions were taxed. Such as they are in Europe under an open market.

Resources:

Deutch, John M., and Ernest J. Moniz. “The Nuclear Option.” Nature News, Nature Publishing Group, 1 Sept. 2006, www.nature.com/scientificamerican/journal/v295/n3/full/scientificamerican0906-76.html.

St. Lawrence University