|February 10, 2012||Facts About Nuclear Power||no comments|
Nuclear power is in fact the safest, cleanest, most effective power around. Here are some interesting facts:
The first commercial nuclear power stations started operation in the 1950s. There are now over 440 commercial nuclear power reactors operating in 30 countries, with 377,000 MWe of total capacity. They provide about 14% of the world's electricity (roughly 20% of US electricity) as continuous, reliable base-load power, and their efficiency is increasing. 56 countries operate a total of about 250 research reactors and a further 180 nuclear reactors power some 140 ships and submarines.
If you look at the facts, the Chernobyl accident in 1986 was the result of a flawed reactor design that was operated with inadequately trained personnel. The Chernobyl disaster was a unique event and the only accident in the history of commercial nuclear power where radiation-related fatalities occurred. However, the design of the reactor is unique and the accident is thus of little relevance to the rest of the nuclear industry outside the then Eastern Bloc.
Only 31 people died from Acute Radiation Syndrome as a result, and later deaths cannot necessarily be attributed to radiation exposure. Studies have proven that there is no evidence of a major public health impact attributable to radiation exposure 20 years after the accident.
In the last two decades there has been some resettlement of the areas evacuated in 1986 and subsequently. Recently the main resettlement project has been in Belarus. Resettlement of areas from which people were relocated is ongoing.
The US Three Mile Island accident in 1979 had a significant effect on Western reactor design and operating procedures. While that reactor was destroyed, all radioactivity was contained – as designed – and there were no deaths or injuries.
Following a major earthquake (8.9 magnitude), a 15-metre tsunami disabled the power supply of the Fukushima Daiichi reactors, interrupting cooling and hence causing a nuclear accident. There have been no deaths or cases of radiation sickness from the nuclear accident. The tsunami inundated about 560 sq km and resulted in a human death toll of over 20,000.
These are the only major accidents to have occurred in over 14,500 cumulative reactor-years of commercial nuclear power operation in 32 countries.
As far as the waste goes: Nuclear power is the only energy industry which takes full responsibility for all its wastes, and costs this into the product.
Over the last 50 years the principal reason for reprocessing used fuel has been to recover unused uranium and plutonium in the used fuel elements and thereby close the fuel cycle, gaining some 25% more energy from the original uranium in the process and thus contributing to energy security.
Reprocessing used fuel to recover uranium (as reprocessed uranium, or RepU) and plutonium (Pu) avoids the wastage of a valuable resource. Most of it – about 96% – is uranium, of which less than 1% is the fissile U-235 (often 0.4-0.8%); and up to 1% is plutonium. Both can be recycled as fresh fuel, saving up to 30% of the natural uranium otherwise required. The materials potentially available for recycling (but locked up in stored used fuel) could conceivably run the US reactor fleet of about 100 GWe for almost 30 years with no new uranium input.
Compared to other non-carbon-based and carbon-neutral energy options, nuclear power plants require far less land area. For a 1000 MW plant, site requirements are estimated as follows: nuclear, 1-4 km 2 ; solar or photovoltaic park, 20-50 km 2 ; a wind field, 50-150 km 2 ; and biomass, 4.000-6.000 km 2 .
Nuclear is comfortably cheaper than coal and gas in all countries.
External Costs of Energy Production: In October 2009 a US National Research Council report commissioned by Congress quantified and analysed a total of $120 billion in "hidden" external costs of energy production in the USA in 2005. The figures reflect mainly health damage and exclude the effects of climate change. Electricity generation accounted for more than half, practically all being from coal.
The external cost of damages, primarily caused from sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and particulate matter emissions from burning coal, were $62 billion, or 3.2 cents per kWh of electricity produced from it. The report expects damages from coal to fall to 1.7 c/kWh by 2030. Electricity produced from natural gas produced $0.74 billion in damages (0.16 c/kWh) in 2005, primarily from air pollution. For nuclear the figure was about 0.02 c/kWh. Motor vehicles produced $56 billion in health and other non-climate damages, considering the full life cycle of vehicles - only one third was from their operation. Electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles resulted in higher non-climate damages than other technologies, due to reliance on fossil fuels for the electricity. Energy used to create the batteries and electric motors adds 20% of the manufacturing portion of life-cycle damages.
One kilogram of natural uranium will yield about 20,000 times as much energy as the same amount of coal.
It’s time to move toward the future and embrace change. With the advancement of science and technology the world as we know it will become a safer more efficient place for our future generations.
Please don't rely on social networking or hearsay for truth. I encourage everyone to do some research and make your own judgement afterwords. For more factual data please visit: www.world-nuclear.org or on Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_power
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