The Economic and Environmental Advantages and Disadvantages of Nuclear Power in the UK

by aframoaa on April 22, 2016 - 6:24pm

The Economic and Environmental Advantages and Disadvantages of Nuclear Power in the UK

The use of nuclear reactions that discharge nuclear energy to generate heat, which most regularly is then used in steam turbines to produce electricity in a nuclear power plant is termed nuclear power. The term includes nuclear decay, nuclear fission and nuclear fusion. The nuclear cycle from mining of uranium (nuclear fuel) till power is distributed to the end user has its advantages and disadvantages both to the environment and the economy of the location. Nuclear power is classified as a renewable energy because of it zero emission of carbon into the atmosphere during it production processes. Due to public attitude towards the nuclear power generating, there has been instant where license to build nuclear power plant in some part of the world were refused “European Human Right Summaries”, while others countries too welcome it, “Finland Nuclear news” example being the Finland and France. Technology wise, location is vital due to the different types of coolants and moderators used in the process to generate energy because some plants uses a lot of water therefore must have water body near the location.

In this context we are going to look at United Kingdom to identify the advantages and the disadvantages of nuclear power to the economy and the environment. There are different technology types of nuclear reactors namely Pressurised water reactor (PWR), Boiling water reactor (BWR), Pressurised heavy water reactor (PHWR), Gas-cooled reactor (AGR & Magnox) Light water graphite reactor (RBMK & EGP) and the Fast neutron reactor (FBR). The United Kingdom has Magnox and the Gas-cooled reactor that uses graphite moderator and carbon dioxide as primary coolant. The fuel is uranium oxide pellets enriched to 2.5-3.5% in stainless steel tubes. The coolant rans through the core at temperature 650 degree Celsius and then past steam generator tubes outside it, but still inside the concrete and pressure vessel (hence integral design). Control rods penetrate the moderator and a secondary shutdown system involves injecting nitrogen to the coolant.

An illustration of Gas-cooled reactor process of generating power in the UK


The environmental disadvantages and advantages of the UK nuclear power- The nuclear waste disposal whether low level, intermediate level or high level is most concern to the public due to the radioactive it contains. The public in the UK disagree of the way the nuclear waste is disposed. Any little leakage of the radioactive element will contaminate the land leading to contaminating of drinking water and health issues like cancer, birth deformation and the destruction of the eco-system. Just as after the Chernobyl disaster (1986), SL-1 accident (1961) Three Mile Island accident (1979) and Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster (2011) these places are inhabitable. But there are vital advantages of the nuclear energy which out ways it disadvantages as it was unveiled in the debate by the pro nuclear team. It reduces the amount of carbon emission in the atmosphere since it has zero emission of the greenhouse gases during operation. This generates good air for breathing. It also enhance the UKs target to reduce it total amount of carbon dioxide it releases into the atmosphere that cause global warming both national and internationally to the effect of climate change. Nuclear energy is environmentally friendly and clean.

The economic disadvantages and advantages of the nuclear power in the UK according to DECC is worth constructing more nuclear power plant because a nuclear power plant station employs around 24,000 people directly and 20,000 with contracted jobs in the wider supply chain. This boost the UK economy as demand for goods and services increases with high employment rate and money is injected into the economy. As at 2012 Vincent de Rivaz of EDF (CEO) stated that the industry supplied 20% of the country’s electricity. UK benefits from long term energy stable price from nuclear energy which has a life span ranging from 35 years to 50 years according to world nuclear news. Geopolitical instability that has the potential to send oil and gas price fluctuating causing economic instability will not affect the UK economy when nuclear energy is in use. Yes there are other renewables like wind, solar, biomass and hydro but can they generate power constantly and at a higher kilowatts as nuclear energy does? Have you also thought about the problems that has to do with scalability, land use and materials? Nuclear power is economical as compared to fossil fuel. The question is how many times has nuclear power failed to deliver? As wind will do when there is low wind, or solar energy would when the day is not sunny enough and further more when the water source of hydro power plant freezes during the cold winter. Which is likely to occur in the UK. Low cost of power to the end users in the UK.

Considering the disadvantages to the economy and the environment of burning fossil fuel, and it transportation, my position as antinuclear have changed after the debate because with improvement of technology in nuclear power plant development, nuclear power is becoming one of the safest ways of producing electricity. When disasters were compared in the nuclear debate many accident were revealed about the oil industry and the nuclear industry. Nuclear plants failure were mostly the cause of nuclear accidents, while both human errors and plant failure has cause most of the accident in the oil industry. Geoffrey Greenhalgh author of “The Future of Nuclear Power” also reveals in his book saying early collusions at sea during fossil fuel transportation which occurred on the 25th August 1984 and 20th December 1987 caused the death of over 2,000 people and uncountable marine species were destroyed. But collusion of nuclear fuel during transportation ended up no death. The public uncertainty attitude over nuclear power is due to lack of proper education on nuclear power generating. From the nuclear debate I entreat the environmental community (Anti-Nuclear) to weigh up the pros and the cons of different energy sources using objective proof and realistic trade-offs, rather than simply relying on idealistic perceptions of what is green.



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