Nuclear Power in the USA Currently

  • The USA is the world’s largest producer of nuclear power which accounts for more than 30% of nuclear power in the world.
  • There are 99 nuclear reactors in the US in 30 different states operated by 30 different companies. And in 2016 they produced 805 TWh of energy.
  • Over the span of 30 years, few nuclear reactors have been built; however, plans two build two more nuclear reactors should come soon after the year 2020.
  • Since the 1970s the average capacity of nuclear reactors has risen from 50% to 90% in 2002. Since then the capacity hasn’t risen significantly except for a 2% increase in capacity in 2016. It’s also important to note that most of the US nuclear generating capacity comes from reactors built between 1967 and 1990.
  • Until the year 2013 there had been no new construction of nuclear power plants. Some of the reasoning behind stems from gas being the more economically favorable form of energy along with years of strong opposition to the construction of new nuclear reactors.
  • Even though there has been little construction for the past 30 years, the US’s reliance on nuclear power has grown significantly.
  • However, no more than two nuclear reactors will be built before the year 2021. Low gas prices still dominate the industry which dampen demand for nuclear power reactors.

Resources:

“Nuclear Power in the USA.” The Many Uses of Nuclear Technology – World Nuclear Association, Feb. 2018, www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/non-power-nuclear-applications/overview/the-many-uses-of-nuclear-technology.aspx.

Prospects for Nuclear Power: Financing Risks

-More so than other types of power plant production, nuclear power plants face a lot of regulatory risk. This means that they risk the change of regulations and laws that might affect the industry; changes in cost, etc… (p.55)

-However there have been efforts to streamline this process such as pre-approving designs, getting site permits early, and combining construction and operating licenses. (p.55)

-Nuclear power is also highly sensitive to each current federal energy policy. Under the Obama administration, members of congress voted for a “clean energy standard” which supported nuclear energy. Under the current legislation, it is unclear what the future of nuclear energy will be. (p.55)

-The decrease in fossil fuel prices also impacts the need and desire for nuclear power plants. Technology such as hydro-fracking has increased the availability of natural gas at a low cost. (p.55)

– It is apparent that some new form of alternative technology is necessary to face future needs. Whether this be in the form of nuclear energy, or a lower-cost and sustainable alternative, the future relies on the implementation of such forms of power. (p.56)

 

Resources:

Davis, Lucas W. 2012. “Prospects for Nuclear Power.” Journal of Economic Perspectives, 26(1):49-66.

Major Arguments Against Nuclear Energy

-One of the major arguments against nuclear energy is it is not a cost effective form of energy because waste disposal is so pricey. (p.13)

-Some also suggest that nuclear power is not actually clean energy because the amount of carbon dioxide released during uranium mining. (p.14)

-Currently, nuclear power plants take up to 10 years to build, so that could not contribute to reducing greenhouse gases anytime soon. (p.14)

-Safety is also a big concern when it comes to nuclear power plants. There have been catastrophic incidents in the past and also concerns of the nuclear materials being used for weapon-making and other destructive practices. (p.14)

-Nuclear is only a short term solution because it is not a renewable form of energy, we are better off investing in renewable resources and such as solar, wind, tidal, and geothermal. These forms of energy are becoming more efficient and cheaper each year. (p.14)

 

Resources:

Taylor, Graeme. “Nuclear Energy and Global Sustainability.” Social Alternatives 26.2 (2007): 12-7. Print.

Major Arguments for Nuclear Energy

There is current debate over nuclear energy. Some countries find nuclear power as a safe, cheap, and clean source of energy, while others oppose it. (p.12)

Arguments for Nuclear Energy:

– Those for nuclear energy claim that it is a reliable and cost-effective source of electrical power. (p.13)

-Dissimilar to fossil fuels, nuclear power doesn’t contribute to smog or greenhouse gases. (p.13).

-Some say that nuclear power plants are also safer than some current power plants and they are constantly becoming more efficient. (p.13)

-Even though these plants produce radioactive waste, this waste is stored deep in the ground. (p.13)

-Nuclear power may not be a renewable source of energy, but the large supplies of it could be a great alternative until better and more sustainable forms of energy can meet the needs of the current global economy. (p.13)

-Nuclear power plants can also be use to desalinate sea water in countries with water scarcity; it also has the potential to be used to produce hydrogen to replace gasoline and diesel fuels for use in transportation. (p.13)

 

Resources:

Taylor, Graeme. “Nuclear Energy and Global Sustainability.” Social Alternatives 26.2 (2007): 12-7. Print.

Is Nuclear Clean Power?

There is much debate over whether or not nuclear energy is a clean form of power.

The debate lies in the trade off between nuclear plants providing less of a carbon foot print as some other forms of energy. However, there are obvious impacts on both the environment and general health of beings nearby nuclear power plants.

Other arguments include the large amount of water consumed to operate nuclear power plants, along with leaks and other water issues, and then the endangerment of several species of plants and animals.

Water Hog

  • Nuclear power plants obtain water from lakes, rivers, aquifers, and the ocean.
  • This is a closed system because a lot of the water is lost to evaporation and is not recycled.
  • Nuclear plants draw nearly eight times the freshwater of natural plants per unit of electricity that they generate. This is 11% more than coal plants.

Species in Danger

  • Salmon in the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest have been known to get sucked into power plants while trying to swim upstream during mating season.
  • Endangered sea turtles of the coast of Florida have also been impacted by Florida Power & Light’s St. Lucie plant on Hutchinson Island.
  • The plant’s intake has brought in more than 16,000 sea turtles since 1976.
    • This plant has also faced issues including harm to swarms of jellyfish.

Leaks and Other Water Issues

  • Nuclear power plants periodically leak pollutants such as radioactive elements such as tritium.
  • Plants near big cities such as New York City and Miami have found traces of tritium in their drinking water at levels above regulation by the EPA.

 

Resources:

NESMITH, SUSANNAH. “Is Nuclear Clean Power?.” Planning, vol. 82, no. 8, Aug/Sep2016, pp. 36-39. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=vth&AN=117223522&site=ehost-live.

Confronting Risks: Regulatory Responsibility and Nuclear Energy

The Nuclear Option

  • Nuclear energy was once hated radically by environmental activists.
  • Today nuclear power is being rethought due to its promise as a more climate-friendly energy option.
  • Overall safety and cost-effectiveness of nuclear power are still considerable arguments in the contrast between the impacts of nuclear power and coal.
  • Even though nuclear power plants have the potential to cause catastrophic accidents, their downsides and risk are worse, but less probably than those of coal.
  • Questions arise such as is the “nuclear option” worth the potential major downsides. Scientists and researchers are also figuring out how to compare the risks associated with nuclear power plants compared against the risks and danger of climate change.

Alternative Solutions

  • There are obviously severe negative and positive aspects to both the continuation and implementation of nuclear power plants along with issues that arise from alternative sources of energy.
  • However, of the safety and cost-effectiveness of renewable forms of energy are accurate than alternative forms of energy are the more ideal solution.
  • Renewable energy options may someday replace fossil fuels entirely. But in the meantime, some scientists argue that the continuation of nuclear plants compared to coal-fired plants are the more ideal solution until renewable forms of energy can meet the world’s needs.
  • We should simply try to live more sustainably in order to act fairly towards one another on this planet earth.

 

Resources

Vanderheiden, Steve. “Confronting Risks: Regulatory Responsibility and Nuclear Energy.” Environmental Politics, vol. 20, no. 5, Sept. 2011, pp. 650-667. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/09644016.2011.608532.

Nuclear Power: A Panacea for Future Energy Needs

Carbon Dioxide Emissions Reductions

  • Nuclear reactors don’t emit carbon dioxide to produce electricity because their fuel is uranium-based
  • However carbon dioxide is emitted during uranium mining, milling and fuel fabrication processes
  • Still, nuclear power displaces large volumes of carbon dioxide in comparison with fossil fuel plants.

Security

  • One of the biggest security concerns with nuclear power is its connection to nuclear weapon development
  • International agreements such as the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) have been created to guarantee that countries that don’t have nuclear weapons are still allowed nuclear technology, but for the sole purpose of energy production
  • The general problem is that the fuel for nuclear power plants is the same fuel for nuclear weapons. Aka highly enriched uranium or plutonium

Environmental/Health Impacts

  • Waste from nuclear power is relatively small compared to that of other energy sources like fossil fuels.
  • Emission from nuclear plants are in the form of both gases and liquids.
  • Most of the problems arise from the origin of nuclear power. Stemming from mining and uranium ore fabrication into fuel.
  • Radiation is a concern involved with mining uranium.

Prospects for the future

  • Even though nuclear power plants themselves produce less carbon emissions then other forms of energy plants, the creation and upkeep of new and former plants would take a number of years to build and maintain.
  • These processes would also emit a large amount of CO2 into the atmosphere.
  • Nuclear power plants also have a stigma of “doomsday” scenarios. Especially because of the horrible accident  occurring at Chernobyl in 1986

Resources:

MacFarlane, Allison. “Nuclear Power – a Panacea for Future Energy Needs?.” Environment, vol. 52, no. 2, Feb. 2010, pp. 34-46. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eih&AN=49125462&site=ehost-live.

Nuclear Power an Overview

What is nuclear power?

– Nuclear power is the use of nuclear reactions that release nuclear energy to generate heat.

  • Frequently, the nuclear energy is used in steam turbines to produce electricity in a nuclear power plant.
  • Nuclear power includes nuclear fission, nuclear decay and nuclear fusion
    • It’s worth noting that nuclear fission produces the majority of energy in direct service to human needs

– Currently, there is much debate about nuclear power and the future of this form of energy compared to other more renewable energy sources.

  • Organizations such as the World Nuclear Association and Environmentalists for Nuclear Energy argue that nuclear power is a safe and sustainable source of energy that reduces carbon emissions.
  • In contrast to this, other organizations such as Greenpeace International and the NIRS contend that nuclear power poses many threats to the people and the environment.

– Other arguments on this case is that renewable energy argue that wind power and solar power are already cheaper and safer than nuclear power.

Resources:

Wikipedia Contributors. “Nuclear Energy.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 25 Jan. 2018. Web. 25 Jan. 2018. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_power>

Superbowl Prediction

Soup or Bowl?  Are there giant bowls of soup involved?

Alas, I am only joking…

And my prediction is that the Eagles are going to win the Superbowl and that there will be extreme emotional turmoil on campus.

#superbowl #bowlsofsoup

St. Lawrence University