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I have questions about nuclear power and its role in our electrical power system. What fraction of our energy is presently produced by nuclear power? Should it be increased? Are safety and cost acceptable? Are new technologies available or coming? Could new Small Modular Reactors be a sound approach?
Issues on this topic are plentiful – both in favor and against. On one hand, scientific/technical and economic standpoints advocate in favor of it – arguing it as a clean power source. On the other, public perception of it – is one of fear associated with very high risk and huge financial losses. The disasters (the recent catastrophic ones were the Chernobyl 1986 and the Fukushima 2011) starting from 1957 – are a showcase of situations that raise many questions. The Wiki article shows a chronicle of nuclear accidents and radiation hazards.
The 1992 National Academies Publication 1601 shows that Europe is the major producer of Nuclear Power (France 77% and Germany 33% followed by Japan 26% and USA 19%).
The World Nuclear Association in its 2022 article Safety of Nuclear Power Reactors poses as a major advocacy group for generation of Nuclear Electric Power.
GAIA – An Atlas of Planet Management (Anchor Books 1984; N Myers Ed) made an excellent case – let's say from public and environmental perspectives: The Nuclear Industry is sick. Far from providing a cheap and plentiful supply of energy that would satisfy world demand for the foreseeable future, it has provided us with expensive energy source fraught with intractable technical problems and unacceptable environmental risks. Long-lived radioactive wastes cast a shadow which reaches across the generations. Perhaps the result of such a public perception has resulted in less and less numbers of Nuclear Power Plants being built across the globe.
The fear of radiation hazard becomes clear if one considers the half-life (the length of time it takes for half its radioactivity to die away) of nuclear wastes a reactor produces – which is in the order of 24,000 years and more.
Apart from such arguments – one can also discern that in the Sun-Earth thermodynamic energy balance – the Nuclear Power amounts to a net addition of heat energy. Therefore, may not be as climate friendly as one thinks it is (see Entropy and Everything Else and Warming Climate and Entropy).
Dr. Dilip K Barua, PhD
The World Nuclear Association in its 2022 article